Panthéon in Paris
22 March 2019

French citizenship welcome ceremony at the Pantheon

On 21 March 2019 at the Pantheon, the Prime Minister presided over a welcome ceremony for people acquiring French nationality. On this occasion, Edouard Philippe reminded those present of the significance of this important moment, emphasising in particular the duties and rights that come with French citizenship.
Edouard Philippe firstly stressed that the Pantheon is not a "tomb" chosen to celebrate French nationality, granted on 21 March this year to 274 new fellow citizens, but, rather, "a crucible where France is made". He thus paid tribute to the renowned French citizens of foreign origin who are here today.
Panthéon in Paris
The Panthéon
On Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, the Panthéon is a masterpiece of the architect Soufflot. Soufflot’s ambition was to outdo the churches of St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul’s in London.  The monumental peristyle was inspired by the Pantheon commissioned by Agrippa in Rome.
From 1874 onwards, the sanctuary was decorated with paintings on canvas marouflé illustrating the life of Saint Geneviève and the epic story of the beginnings of both Christianity and the monarchy in France.
Tombs of eminent personalities interred in the crypt who shaped France's national identity. A permanent exhibition gives details about the lives and works of those who are buried here, from Voltaire and Rousseau to Alexandre Dumas.
Foucault’s pendulum was first installed in 1851 and removed then reinstalled in 1995. This device demonstrated the Earth's rotation.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe"All these foreigners who have helped make France, came to our country to find something: a refuge, protection, a family, a culture, a better life, a future and sometimes perhaps even a destiny. France has given them much and in return they have given much to France."
Edouard Philippe

The Prime Minister also pointed out how much the "diversity" represented by people of foreign origin now constitutes an opportunity, in today’s "globalised, open world, with which we must trade, cooperate and engage in dialogue".

Commitment to French culture and values

However, as stated in the Civil Code, assimilation into the French community is necessary, in particular through:
  • Sufficient knowledge of French language, history, culture and society.
  • Respect for the rights and duties conferred by nationality.
  • Commitment to the fundamental principles and values of the Republic.
Freedom of conscience is essential here: with secularism, France guarantees both religious freedom and the strict neutrality of the public authorities. "France does not agree and will never agree that the laws of the Republic should be weighed against religious precepts nor that some of us agree to comply with the first only when they are compatible with the second", stressed Edouard Philippe.

Likewise, other principles are fundamental, including:
  • Gender equality, which is one of the priorities of the five-year term.
  • Universal National Service, which will be trialled starting from this year and then expanded, because citizenship is also an ongoing commitment.
  • The right to vote, which is also a duty: it is "a way of participating in a long struggle which has enabled our country to be, and to defend its democratic values".
The Prime Minister emphasised the opportunity that French nationality gives its citizens to benefit from European citizenship, citizenship which provides both guarantees and additional freedoms, which are all the more important since many European countries share the same rules of organisation and the same currency.

Lastly, Edouard Philippe reiterated the high expectations and requirements that apply in the areas of asylum and immigration, which are based on the principle of openness and quality of reception, to ensure that those who have the right to stay in France have every opportunity to integrate, but also on a principle of great Republican resolve, in order to fight resolutely against what can be recognised as the abuse of the right of asylum.