French graduate school ("grande école")
The École nationale d'administration (generally referred to as ENA, English: National School of Administration) is a French grande école, created in 1945 by French President, Charles de Gaulle, and principal author of the French Constitution, Michel Debré, to democratise access to the senior civil service. The ENA selects and undertakes initial training of senior French officials. It is considered to be one of the most academically exceptional French schools, both because of its low acceptance rates and because a large majority of its candidates have already graduated from other elite schools in the country. Thus, within French society, the ENA stands as one of the main pathways to high positions in the public and private sectors.
Originally located in Paris, it has now been almost completely relocated to Strasbourg to emphasise its European character. It is based in the former Commanderie Saint-Jean, though continues to maintain a Paris campus. ENA produces around 80 to 90 graduates every year, known as étudiants-fonctionnaires, "enaos" or "énarques" (IPA: [enaʁk]) for short. In 2002 the Institut international d'administration publique (IIAP) which educated French diplomats under a common structure with the ENA was merged with it. The ENA shares several traditions with the College of Europe, which was established shortly after.
In 2019, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, promised that he would close ENA. Macron is an ENA graduate himself, but the tight network of ENA graduates influencing the French civil service has been decried by populist protests such as the gilets jaunes as an elite governing class out of touch with civilians. In April 2021, Macron announced the closure of the school, calling the closure "the most important reform of the senior public service” since the school's creation by Charles de Gaulle in 1945.
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