“The decision of the European judges on the working time of our soldiers touches the heart of the sovereignty and security of France”

Tribune. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a judgment on the working time of soldiers on Thursday, July 15. This judgment has consequences which every French person would do well to measure. In essence, the Court opens the door to a framework for the activities of the armed forces by stating that the 2003 directive on working time applies to the military in certain circumstances.

The Court admittedly excludes the moments relating to crisis situations and deployment in operations, training and training, which is fortunate as the absurdity of a regulation of working time in these circumstances would have appeared obvious. But, despite these exceptions, it is the entire employment model of the French armies, the military culture, the very conception of a permanently operational army that are threatened.

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It must be remembered again and again: the French army model, its efficiency, its agility and its toughness are unparalleled in Europe. Our European friends have armies. None of them are employed with an intensity, pace and commitment comparable to ours. None is based on a model of nuclear deterrence like ours. In France, the requirement of availability which weighs on the armies can be summed up in a limpid formula: “At any time and in any place. “

A negation of military specificity

I am fiercely pro-European. Everything about my political commitment and my intellectual parentage confirm my attachment to European construction. But this decision of the highest European court is in principle contrary to the most elementary national interests. It touches the heart of the sovereignty and security of France. It is not acceptable.

How can we accept that our soldiers, who have “Death for working hypothesis”, can be assimilated, if only for a part of their activities, to workers like the others? How can we accept that the action of the most powerful army in Europe, which participates in the Sahel, the Levant, Eastern Europe and the Indo-Pacific in the security of the continent, is thus limited? How can we fail to see that the negation of military specificity is already a renunciation of the possible use of force to defend our interests? The French army is a chance for Europe, to weaken it is to play with our collective security.

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A lawyer by training, I regret that the European judge ignores the principle of subsidiarity, reservations of sovereignty and frees himself from a “Natural and reasonable reading of treaties”, as the former president of the Constitutional Council Pierre Mazeaud said. It is not my habit to criticize a court decision. But in the end, it is difficult to see what freedom guaranteed by the treaties this decision ensures the exercise.

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