France: Macron set to abolish the ENA

France's President Macron has presented his plans to abolish the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration, training school of the elites. Generations of high-ranking officials have received their education there, including Macron himself. It is to be replaced by the much more inclusive Institut du Service Public and a new curriculum.

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The Guardian (GB) /

Concession to the anti-elite movement

With his plans to abolish the ENA, Emmanuel Macron is trying to position himself optimally for the presidential election campaign, The Guardian is convinced:

“Macron said that the time had come to abolish an institution that is widely regarded as a symbol of elitism and inequality. With just a year until the next presidential election, Macron is neck and neck in the polls with Marine Le Pen. The ENA abolition looks, therefore, as if it's part of a strategy to reconnect with 'the people'. It's easy to forget, given the pandemic, but before France entered lockdown in March 2020, it had been experiencing the most sustained anti-elite movement for generations in the form of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests. Macron has certainly has not forgotten this.”

Marianne (FR) /

Mercenaries can’t become officers either

The reform should be focusing on very different issues, Georges Kuzmanovic, founder and chairman of the left-wing nationalist movement République souveraine, demands in Marianne:

“First and foremost there must be a ban on 'pantouflage', in other words the possibility for former high-ranking civil servants to go and work for the private sector (and in particular the banks and global finance, as Emmanual Macron did). When you decide to serve France and its fellow citizens, this is a sacred office - can you imagine for example, French officers serving as mercenaries and then returning to positions at the head of the French army? I think not!”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

It's not a revolution yet

What's really needed is a reform of the entire French education system, Paris correspondent Tanja Kuchenbecker comments in Der Tagesspiegel:

“Its whole orientation is about picking out the best as early as possible. It starts with the fact that there are good and bad schools, depending on where you live. The course is set at the very latest with the choice of lycée in the last three years of school. ... And it continues via various competitions for places at elite schools for business or engineering. The masses get educated in the universities, very few of which have a good reputation. Macron promised that these would be involved in the new civil service training system. That would be a start, albeit a tentative one. A revolution it ain't.”