For others

Publish date 25-07-2021

by Stefano Caredda

Last month, the twentieth birthday of the civil service, which was established in 2001 with the delegated law no. 64, which made it "voluntary" and open to women for the first time. Since then, over half a million volunteers have entered service, out of an abundant million and a half applications submitted. The voluntary civil service was born, in view of the reform of the compulsory military conscription, which in a few years would have been suspended, marking in one stroke also the end of the experience of conscientious objection, which had lasted since 1972 (the mandatory version of civil service, an alternative to military service, ceased to exist in 2005). With the arrival of the new legislation, the skin and some connotations changed: a commitment of 12 months (the objectors stopped at 10), a higher remuneration (at the time around 800 thousand lire, today 439.50 euros), the compulsory training, the possibility of recognizing training credits and points in public competitions. A novelty that was liked, recipient of important awards: "You can serve your country - words of the head of state Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2002 - by serving as volunteers in one of the many sectors of the civil service, in interest of society, especially for the good of the weakest, as well as wearing the uniform, at the service of security and peace ». And the following year John Paul II, in the first audience in the history of a Pope to young people in civil service (then there would also be those of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope Francis in 2016) spoke of a "sign of the times". Until 2016, when, from the Quirinale, Sergio Mattarella of the civil service recalled the "long history, which has its roots in the values ​​of peace and solidarity, and which has contributed to forming the conscience and civic sense of several generations of young people".

Of course, it's not all plain sailing. For a long time the civil service has been at the mercy of the annual allocations in budget law, and has not always been exploited. The darkest moment in 2012/13, when not even the traditional annual announcement was promulgated. Today it is much better, with resources stabilized and sufficient to start at least 50,000 young people a year for the next two years. From time to time, politics re-proposes the theme of returning to a compulsory form of civil service (there are six bills in Parliament), but in the meantime the only novelty that has taken place, with the 2016 reform, has rendered civil service "universal", with the goal - indeed still far away - of making it an experience open to all young people who wish to do it (there are 80-100 thousand a year). In two decades, the culture of solidarity and civic commitment have grown: thanks also to this experience capable of renewing itself and improving.

Stefano Caredda
NP April 2021

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