• Created in 2019, the Universal National Service (UNS) attracted 32,000 young volunteers in 2022.

  • Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State for Youth, announces to

    20 Minutes

    that it will be accessible to all young people aged 15 to 17 in 2023. The number of places will no longer be limited.

  • Another cohesion stay will also be created next April, which will allow four sessions in the year.

This is Emmanuel Macron's flagship device for young people.

The Universal National Service (SNU), launched in 2019, which experienced a brake in 2020 due to the health crisis, concerned 32,000 young people in 2022 (the last session having been held in July).

Aimed at teenagers aged 15 to 17, it takes place in two phases.

First a free cohesion stay, with sports, cultural visits, debates… Then an 84-hour mission of general interest with an association, an administration or a body in uniform.

The Secretary of State in charge of Youth and the Universal National Service (SNU), Sarah El Haïry reveals exclusively to

20 Minutes

the evolutions of the system in 2023.

You want to develop the SNU this year, how?

In July, during his speech to the armed forces, the President of the Republic expressed his wish to give new impetus to the UN system in the face of the great challenges of our time.

During the previous five-year period, we tested the SNU with 2,000 young people in 2019, then it was interrupted in 2020 due to the health crisis.

In 2021, 15,000 young people took part and 32,000 in 2022. Today, it has reached maturity.

We announce that it will now be accessible to all young French people aged 15 to 17.

The number of places will no longer be limited.

In 2023, all young people who want to take part will be able to.

From now on, the UNS will be a right for every young person.

Because he must know that his country needs him. 

You also want to offer another cohesion stay during the year...

Yes, and this is my other announcement: while there were three cohesion stays in 2022 (in February, June and July), we are adding another one which will take place in April, during the school holidays.

This will allow us to offer at least three dates of stays in each department.

In 2020,

Gabriel Attal

, then in charge of Youth, announced a generalization of the SNU in 2024. Have you given up on this ambition to make it compulsory?

In 2022, it was the fourth year of the SNU and there was a ramp-up of the system.

The generalization of the SNU is a project on which we are working.

We need to move towards full device deployment.

But before getting there, it must be made universal, that it be a republican melting pot.

If the SNU were to be compulsory, a bill would have to be presented to the national representation.

The UNS budget will increase by 30 million in 2023 compared to 2022 to be increased to 140 million, will it be enough?

Yes, that's enough to make at least 64,000 young people leave.

We spend 2,114 euros per young volunteer so that for them, the stay is fully supported.

It should also be remembered that young people benefit from free online training in the Highway Code and are offered the registration fees for the exam.

And they come out of the SNU with the PSC1 certificate (certificate of first aid training).

Will the fact of no longer having a barrier to access to the SNU really boost the number of candidates?

Yes, the device is not yet known to all young people, so the fact of announcing today that it will become universal will make people talk about it and will encourage many young people to get involved.

In addition, young people are more optimistic, there is no longer any health protocol.

Young people are bubbling with the desire to participate in civic life.

How are you going to find new reception centers (there are 148 today) when accommodation for young people already seems like a headache?

I do not see any particular difficulties on this point.

We are going to rely on our departmental teams to mobilize new holiday centres, boarding schools, etc.

Only 7.5% of volunteers come from priority neighborhoods, how to attract them more?

We have made progress on this point, because they were 4% in 2021. But we must continue to seek young people from priority neighborhoods and rural areas.

Some families are reluctant to send their child, because they mistakenly think that the SNU is chargeable, that the dormitories are mixed... To remove their doubts, we are going to organize information meetings with parents in high schools.

Local missions and local associations will also be more solicited as information relays.

Does the fact that young people have come under the supervision of the Ministries of Education and the Armed Forces for this new five-year term change anything in the content of the UNS?

No, basically it doesn't change anything.

During the cohesion stay, we always address the same very varied themes: the values ​​of the Republic, secularism, ecological transition, the fight against conspiracy, national and European institutions, consent... And the missions, of interest general are done as well in Ehpad, in a charity association as in a fire station or a gendarmerie.

Some unions have seen your desire to militarize youth, what do you say to them?

SNU is not military service at all.

It is a civil and citizen service.

You don't learn how to handle weapons, but the meaning of commitment.

And the supervisors of the SNU are both teachers, facilitators and people who have worn the civilian or military uniform.

National Education Minister

Pap Ndiaye

spoke of the need to "think very seriously" about a "better organization" of the Universal National Service (SNU) in July.

What does he blame him for?

During the last stays, the convocations of the young people were sometimes delivered a little late, because the shortage of coach drivers penalized us.

Transport management needs to be done more at the territorial level.

In addition, some young people who registered for the SNU did not show up, because they had the Covid, that the stay fell at the same time as a baccalaureate test or a professional internship.

This will encourage us to create a cell to have contact with the registrants before departure to better rationalize stays.

The SNU is also used to detect young people in distress.

How do you help them?

We identify young people who are illiterate or who have a health problem.

Some also confide in their supervisors that they have been victims of violence.

This allows us to offer them psychological or legal support afterwards.


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  • Company

  • Universal National Service

  • Youth

  • Emmanuel Macron

  • Government

  • Sarah El Hairy