Macron emphasises European Union in French foreign, defence ministry postings

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 24, 2017

Newly inaugurated centrist French president Emmanuel Macron chose his government yesterday, appointing a mix of political hues to the top jobs as part of his promise to bridge the right-left divide.

Macron also tried to create a gender-balanced cabinet, 11 out of 22 ministerial posts were taken by women.

Nicolas Hulot is a prominent environmental campaigner and documentary journalist whose television series promotes environmentalism while showing off attractive landscapes.

Le Maire is a free-marketeer and a heavyweight in the LR party, which he has urged to cooperate with the 39-year-old president while others refuse such an alliance.

Along with politicians, the government will feature new faces from civil society, including black Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel, renowned environmentalist Nicolas Hulot and publisher Francoise Nyssen.

France's former defense minister has been named as foreign minister and centrist politician Sylvie Goulard (Goo-LARR) defense minister in French President Emmanuel Macron's first government.

Goulard previously worked as an adviser to Romano Prodi when Prodi served as president of the European Commission - the executive arm of the EU.

Specifically, the appointments of rising center-right figures Bruno Le Maire as economy minister and Gerald Darmanin as budget minister are an attempt to split the Republicans (LR) in two.

The announcement was initially scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed, in order for the state watchdog to carry out background checks into the tax affairs of the ministers.

Bruno Le Maire, named French economy minister, is a reform-minded conservative whose expertise on Europe and staunch defence of the Franco-German relationship will prove valuable as Macron pushes for closer European Union integration.

The Elysée said that the first Council of Ministers of this team will be held tomorrow, Thursday 18 May, which will give all these people to pace the courtyard of the presidential palace. Outgoing French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault escorts Jean-Yves Le Drian, right, who was named as Foreign Minister and Minister for Europe, before the handover ceremony in Paris, Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

At a meeting recorded in a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary about Macron's campaign, 65-year-old Bayrou struck a paternal tone with the 39-year-old, saying: "It's a odd thing, the presidency".

"This shows Europe is the priority", a French diplomatic source said of the rare inclusion of Europe in the foreign ministry portfolio, although also sounding a warning note on his suitability for the role. He was one of the Socialist government's most popular ministers.

An expert on Europe, she has been a member of the European parliament since 1999 and was campaign director for Bayrou's unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign. He has also promised a tough line on Britain as it negotiates its departure from the EU.

He had announced his intention to have a slimmed-down government of 15 ministers.

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