Published: Чт, Мая 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

French President meeting EU chief, to reveal minister picks

French President meeting EU chief, to reveal minister picks

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has joked about the almost 25-year age gap between French President Emmanuel Macron and his older wife, calling her the leader's "beautiful mum".

The new government is expected to be half women, and with about half the number of ministers former president Francois Hollande's cabinet had.

On Monday, his first day in office, Macron named centre-right MP Edouard Philippe as prime minister and travelled to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on reforming the EU.

He is the first president of modern France to come neither from the mainstream left nor the right parties.

Appointing Le Drian to the Foreign Ministry was a natural move after his five years at the Defence Ministry, where he was held in high esteem for his role as "super salesman" for selling French weapons to foreign governments, France Inter radio reported.

In an important gesture to the right-wing Republicans party ahead of parliamentary elections next month, the crucial Economy Ministry will be run by prominent conservative Bruno Le Maire, 48.

Other positions were filled by ministers from civil society.

A star environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, was put in charge of ecology, and a publisher became culture minister - just some of the political newcomers Macron had promised to bring into his team.

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Still, Macron's appointment of Philippe is a clear attempt to reach out to the to conservatives to build support going in to France's parliamentary elections in June.

Sylvie Goulard, a 52-year-old centrist MEP from the southern city of Marseille, is little known to the French public, having spent much of her career in Brussels.

The president, who was recruited by outgoing Socialist Party (PS) president Francois Hollande to direct measures to smash job security and undermine workers' living standards, is redrawing the political party map. He has also said climate change is one of his and France's biggest challenge.

European countries must not dig in their heels and say changes can never be made, she added, as "a European Union that behaves this way would be vulnerable from every corner of the world".

From 2001 to 2004 she was an advisor to then European Commission president Romano Prodi.

Macron, who will also verify his choices for government ministers, is hosting Donald Tusk in the Elysee Palace in a sign of the new French president's determination to shore up European unity.

Macron wants European militaries to join efforts and for eurozone countries to share a budget and tax rules.

It is noteworthy that, while his general secretary Alexis Kohler announced the identity of Macron's prime minister, the president himself went to Berlin to discuss the renewal of Franco-German links to plan the way forward for the European Union. A series of tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government.

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