NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


Which countries in Europe and around the world require military service?

In the case European countries were forced to engage in direct conflict with Russia, which have standing laws that require citizens to serve in the military?

In the case European countries were forced to engage in direct conflict with Russia, which have standing laws that require citizens to serve in the military?

Across the world, there are various forms of mandatory military or non-military service and conscription. Conscription, or the draft, is a practice that mandates some or all of the population to register with the military in the case a military conflict breaks out and a fighting force is needed.

There are one hundred and nine countries that do not require any time of military service or conscription. However, the United States is factored into this list but the country does require men between eighteen and twenty-six to sign up with the Selective Service System which can be activated during a national emergency.

Mandatory Conscription in Europe

  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Lithuania
  • Sweden

Which countries in Europe require military service?

Several countries require citizens to serve in the military, but the length of time varies widely. 

Since 2006 in Austria, mandatory conscription was reduced to six months for military service. For those interested in serving in a civilian role, nine months of service are required. Service must be completed at age eighteen by all males.

Of all European Union member states, Greece requires the longest service. All Greek males between nineteen and forty-five are required to serve in the army for at least one year. Under Greek law, those who are conscientious objectors have been able to complete an alternative form of service since the early 2000s.

France to re implement required service

In France, after suspending peace time conscription the parliament passed a law in 2018 that would require military services for all genders beginning in 2024. Prime Minister Macron included this measure in his platform hoping that it would reinvigorated a sense of French civic duty. There are two components of the compulsory service. The first will take place around age sixteen and require young people to serve their country for one month to "enable young people to create new relationships and develop their role in society". The second portion, for which an age has yet to be determined, will last between three months and a year and be more geared towards "defense and security." 

What are the origins of NATO?

For centuries countries (and kingdoms before that) across Europe had inflicted decades of bloody wars on one another. After the Second World War, various states came together to tie the fate of the continent together to avoid future violence. For the most part this project worked. Between EU members, no wars have been declared.

Many of these countries brought down the size of their military as the threat of invasion decreased substantially and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established.

The origins of NATO can be traced back to an initial agreement, Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, signed between France and the United Kingdom. The agreement required that both countries respond if one were to be invaded by Germany or the Soviet Union and was signed in 1947. The following year, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg were added and the agreement became known as the Western Union. By late 1948, those countries plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland signed the North Atlantic Treaty, where the current organization gets its name.

West Germany, Greece, and Turkey, and Spain were added by the end of the 1980s.When the Soviet Union collapsed, various former republics who had gained their independence began to join. When the decision to expand NATO became widely discussed in the public discourse, there were many important figures who were against it. In the United States people from across the political spectrum, from Bernie Sanders to Henry Kissinger, shared the opinion the organization should not be expanded.

There are currently thirty members of NATO, with a combined fighting force of 3.2 million soldiers. At this point, NATO countries are doing their best to support Ukraine while not engaging directly in the conflict. While President Zelenskyy has asked for a no-fly zone over the country, but this has been rejected by countries like the United States and the United Kingdom as it would have to take out Russian plans, which could lead to a serious escalation of the conflict. 


To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?