École nationale d'administration

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
École nationale d'administration
Logo-École nationale d'administration.png
Type Public
Established 1945
Director Nathalie Loiseau[1]
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 0
Postgraduates 533 students
Location Strasbourg, France
Website www.ena.fr

The École nationale d'administration (ENA; French pronunciation: ​[ekɔl nasjɔnal dadministʁasjɔ̃]; English: National School of Administration) is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles, created in 1945 by Michel Debré to democratise access to the senior civil service. It is now entrusted with the selection and initial training of senior French officials. It is considered to be one of the most elite 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 the 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, and is now based in the former Commanderie Saint-Jean, though it continues to maintain a campus in Paris. ENA produces around 80 to 90 graduates every year, known as étudiants-fonctionnaires or "enaos" or "énarques " (IPA: [enaʁk]) for short. In 2002 the Institut international d'administration publique (IIAP) which educated foreign civil servants under a common structure with ENA was fused with it. ENA shares several traditions with the College of Europe, which was established shortly after.


The Commanderie Saint-Jean, home of the École nationale d'administration

The École Nationale d'Administration was formally established in October 1945 at the decree of Michel Debré as part of his project to reform the recruitment and training of high-ranking officials.[2][3]

The ENA was designed to democratize access to the higher ranks of the civil service: until then, each ministry had its own hiring process; some believed this left the system vulnerable to nepotism and patronage. It was hoped that a system based on academic proficiency and competitive examination would make recruitment to top positions more transparent.[4]

The school was also intended to ensure that higher-ranking civil servants possessed standardized knowledge of policy and governance. Debré’s stated intention was to create “a body of officials proven to be highly competent, especially in financial, economic and social matters.”[5]

Access to senior position of the French civil service is threefold: first, through generalist civil service positions; second, through "technical" (engineering) positions; and third, through internal promotion.

Recruitment and exit procedures[edit]

Admission to ENA is granted based on a competitive examination taking place from the end of August to November, which people generally take after completing studies at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris or any Prép'Ena (preparatory classes for the ENA examination for people coming from universities or grandes écoles). The "concours externe" exam is divided into two parts:

The written part includes:
  • An essay on public law;
  • An essay on economics;
  • An essay on a question about the role of public institutions and their relations with the society
  • A note de synthèse (analyzing a 25 page document and proposing a brief for a Senior Executive [Minister or Director]) on Social Law and Policies (Questions Sociales);
  • Three questions on Public Finance.
The oral exam, taken only by those with the highest marks at the written exam, consists of:
  • An oral examination on International Politics (Questions Internationales);
  • An oral examination on Questions Européennes (European Law and Policies);
  • An English oral test;
  • A collective exam, simulating a case in management to assess interaction skills;
  • A 45-minute entrance exam, known as Grand Oral since any question can be asked, based on the CV given by the candidate.

Results of this exam process are published by the end of December.

Other exam processes govern admission for career civil servants (concours interne) and for all other people, already active in business, political or union activities (troisième concours).

Following a two-year intensive programme combining high-responsibility internships and examinations, ENA ranks students according to their results. Students are then asked, by order of merit, the position/body they want to join. Top-ranked students (between 12 and 15 students) usually join the so-called "grands corps" Inspection générale des finances, Conseil d'État or Cour des comptes, usually followed by the French Treasury and the diplomatic service. Other students will join various ministries and administrative justice or préfectures. To quote ENA's site:[6]

In fact, although these famous alumni are the most visible, the majority are largely unknown, lead quiet and useful careers in our civil service, and don't recognise themselves in the stereotyped images about our school.


Academic years at ENA are known as promotions, and are named by the students after outstanding French (Vauban, Saint-Exupéry, Rousseau), Foreigners (Mandela), characters (Cyrano de Bergerac), battles (Valmy), concepts (Croix de Lorraine, Droits de l'homme) or values (liberté-égalité-fraternité).

This tradition comes from old French military schools such as the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr.

The Promotion Voltaire of 1980 has attracted particular attention, since numerous graduates that year went on to become significant figures in French politics. François Hollande, Dominique de Villepin, Ségolène Royal, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Michel Sapin were all members of this promotion.[7][8][9]


In 2011, the Mines ParisTech : Professional Ranking World Universities ranked the ENA 3rd best university in France and 9th in the world according to the number of alumni holding CEO position at Fortune Global 500 companies.


Very few énarques (around 1%) actually get involved in politics. Most ENA alumni hold apolitical, technical positions in the French civil service. Researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research have shown that many ENA alumni become business executives in France.[10]

French law makes it relatively easy for civil servants to enter politics: civil servants who are elected or appointed to a political position do not have to resign their position in the civil service; instead, they are put in a situation of "temporary leave" known as disponibilité. If they are not re-elected or reappointed, they may ask for their reintegration into their service (see Lionel Jospin and Philippe Séguin for examples). In addition, ENA graduates are often recruited as aides by government ministers and other politicians; this makes it easier for some of them to enter a political career. As an example, Dominique de Villepin entered politics as an appointed official, after serving as an aide to Jacques Chirac, without ever having held an elected position. ENA also participates in international Technical Assistance programmes, funded by the EU or other donors.

According to an international classification, the École nationale d'administration ranks ninth among higher education institutions in the world, with regard to the performance of their training programmes, based on the number of alumni among the Chief Executive Officers of the 500 leading worldwide companies.[11]

Since its creation 60 years ago, the ENA has trained 5600 French senior officials and 2600 foreigners. Some famous alumni include:

International cooperation[edit]


An agreement was signed in Paris on 16 October 2012 between ENA and the Uzbek Academy of administration which envisages cooperation in modernization of state administration and improving skills of public servants on Uzbekistan. The first cooperation will begin in January 2013.[13]


Critics have accused the ENA of educating a narrow ruling class who are prone to groupthink and averse to alternative perspectives. [14]

According to these critics, the ENA discourages its students from innovative thinking and pushes them to take conventional, middle-of-the-road positions.[15] Peter Gumbel, a British academic, has claimed that France’s grande école system, and especially the ENA, has the effect of perpetuating an intellectually brilliant yet out-of-touch ruling elite. Yannick Blanc, a former senior civil servant, has also suggested that énarques have often been too ‘intellectually conformist'.[16][17]

Some French politicians such as Bruno Le Maire and François Bayrou have proposed abolishing the ENA.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ La diplomate Nathalie Loiseau a été nommée mercredi 3 octobre 2012 en Conseil des ministres directrice de l'Ecole nationale d'administration (ENA), devenant ainsi la deuxième femme à diriger la prestigieuse école qui forme les hauts fonctionnaires
  2. ^ http://www.gouvernement.fr/michel-debre
  3. ^ https://www.ena.fr/L-ENA-se-presente/Qui-sommes-nous/Histoire
  4. ^ http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-6765.1978.tb00548.x/epdf?r3_referer=wol&tracking_action=preview_click&show_checkout=1&purchase_referrer=www.google.co.jp&purchase_site_license=LICENSE_DENIED_NO_CUSTOMER
  5. ^ http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org/pages/l-homme/dossiers-thematiques/1944-1946-la-liberation/reconstruire-une-france-nouvelle/analyses/le-general-de-gaulle-et-la-creation-de-l-ena.php
  6. ^ "Accueil - ENA, Ecole nationale d'administration" (in French). Ena.fr. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  7. ^ http://www.economist.com/node/21549976
  8. ^ http://www.planet.fr/politique-ena-les-cinq-choses-a-savoir-sur-la-promotion-voltaire.882707.29334.html
  9. ^ http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/2013/04/04/01002-20130404ARTFIG00691-l-incroyable-destin-de-la-promotion-voltaire-de-l-ena.php
  10. ^ Joly, Hervé (2012). "Les dirigeants des grandes entreprises industrielles françaises au 20e siècle". Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire. 2 (114): 16–32. doi:10.3917/vin.114.0016. Retrieved June 20, 2016 – via Cairn.info. (Registration required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Professionnal ranking of world universities" (PDF).  (286 KB), September 2007
  12. ^ "The rise of the lawyers". The Economist. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  13. ^ "France to Assist the Uzbek Academy of Administration". The Gazette of Central Asia. Satrapia. 1 November 2012. 
  14. ^ https://www.ft.com/content/d76b5fcc-b83f-11e2-bd62-00144feabdc0
  15. ^ http://www.telerama.fr/idees/l-ena-est-elle-une-ecole-dangereuse,132669.php
  16. ^ http://www.la-croix.com/France/Politique/LENA-prestigieuse-critiquee-2016-09-01-1200786043
  17. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/liberte-inegalite-fraternite-is-french-elitism-holding-the-country-back-8621650.html
  18. ^ http://www.la-croix.com/France/Politique/LENA-prestigieuse-critiquee-2016-09-01-1200786043
  19. ^ http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/politique/elections-2007/20070331.OBS9896/bayrou-veut-supprimer-l-ena.html

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°34′50″N 7°44′14″E / 48.58056°N 7.73722°E / 48.58056; 7.73722