France tightens rules to award the Legion of Honor
PARIS (AP) — The French government says it is tightening rules for awarding the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said Thursday the number of awardees next year will decrease by 50 percent for civilians, 10 percent for soldiers and 25 percent for foreigners.
Currently some 3,200 civilians and 1,300 military staff receive the award every year.
Castaner suggested the Legion of Honor is currently granted too easily to people who have the right networks to put their names on the list.
Speaking at a news conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting, he said the selection criteria should be stricter, adding: “You don’t get it by doing friends favors.”
He also said some senior public servants who cannot receive financial bonuses under French law are symbolically awarded with the Legion of Honor instead.
He noted the Legion of Honor tends to be attributed mostly to white men over 60 and called for more diversity.
The Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon in 1802, aims at honoring famous as well as unknown people, French and foreigners, who have served France and defended its values.
Government members are proposing names of candidates to the Legion of Honor’s head, the Grand Chancellor. The list of awardees is made official by a decree of the President of the Republic and announced three times each year.
Last month, Macron began the process to revoke Harvey Weinstein’s Legion of Honor award over the multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment against the Hollywood titan.
Weinstein was given the prestigious award in 2012 by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy after the French film “The Artist” won multiple Oscars. Weinstein’s company produced the film.
Another American — disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong — is among the few people who have had their distinction revoked.