“Always ready for action” is the basic understanding of the soldiers in the French army. But the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could put an end to the model of constant readiness. This is feared by President Emmanuel Macron, who solemnly adopted the Chief of Staff François Lecointre on Wednesday in Paris. The new chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, is faced with the challenge of swearing the soldiers to work time recording. This is what the Court of Justice wants, ruling on July 15 that military personnel are not in principle exempt from the EU Working Time Directive. In the future, soldiers will have to record their working hours for certain activities and may not work more than 48 hours per week.
“A fatal blow for our defense,” said former Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement outraged. Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wrote, no less indignantly, “the entire model of the operational capability of our armed forces and our military culture is threatened”. “I am an ardent European,” said Macron, but “if the European path leads to denial and weakening our defensive strength, then we will not give in,” warned the president shortly before the verdict in his traditional address to the Armed forces on the national holiday. “We have defended our status and will hold out until the end,” said Macron, who is the highest army chief according to the constitution. Defense Minister Florence Parly sounded more cautious: she will have the consequences for the army examined, she said.