25 September 2023

GERMANY: Military service plan for youth

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The junior partner in the German Government wants the country’s youth to undertake a “Germany Internship” in the country’s armed forces or Public Service.

The proposal by the Christian Social Union (CSU) would require young adults to undertake service so that “they understand what it means to perform a meaningful duty for their country”.

The party did not say how long the service would last.

The idea of compulsory service is coming back into vogue in some European countries.

French President, Emmanuel Macron said last year he intended to make French teenagers serve a month of civilian service with the option of military training afterwards.

Sweden has also reintroduced conscription.

In Germany, conscription was abolished in 2011 by then Minister for Defence, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a senior CSU figure who drove the policy through against the will of his own party.

The CSU denies it is now attempting to reverse that decision through the back door.

Secretary-General of the CSU, Florian Hahn said that unlike the old military service, the internship would apply to both sexes and would have a stronger focus on Public Service engagement rather than on military training.

“The Germany Internship would strengthen our citizenry, social cohesion and our country,” Mr Hahn said.

However, the policy paper, which also includes commitments to build a European army by 2030 and to beef up military spending, is clearly intended to win back the support of soldiers who have drifted over to the nationalist Alternative for Germany Party.

Berlin, 7 May 2019

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