Macron to close Ena, training school of French elite

Leila Abboud:

To reform the senior civil service, the government will also abolish the system by which people are initially assigned to the most prestigious government jobs based on their ranking at Ena graduation, and instead give them roles based on needs and skills.

Macron first promised to abolish Ena, which has produced four of France’s seven presidents since 1958 and is his own alma mater, in 2019 in response to the anti-establishment gilets jaunes protests.

The decision shocked the French elite and divided public opinion — some saw it as a long overdue move to help fix an unequal society while others decried it as a cynical gesture pandering to populists.

Last year the government appeared to soften its stance and floated the idea of replacing Ena with a new institution while retaining the brand for international purposes such as the training of EU staff. That approach has now been adopted as Macron prepares for presidential elections next spring with his popularity dented by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ena was founded in 1945 under Charles de Gaulle with the aim of training civil servants drawn from all social classes through entrance exams and assigning jobs based on performance rather than wealth or connections.