Monday, 17 December, 2018

Emmanuel Macron Names Edouard Philippe as French Prime Minister

Kenny Thornton | 16 May, 2017, 11:16

In a nod to German concerns, Mr Macron said at the news conference with Mrs Merkel that he had never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds and does not favour European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts.

"The French agenda will be an agenda of reform in the coming months, in economic, social and educational terms", he said.

However for this to work, Macron would have to make domestically hard changes to France's labor costs and taxes, now among the highest in Europe.

He said the government he will appoint on Tuesday will start working on the issue.

Merkel wished Macron luck in the legislative elections. "That means that Mr. Macron could be forced to replace his prime minister, depending on the outcome of the June elections".

"He has the advantage of being completely unknown to the average French person", political analyst Chloe Morin of the Jean-Jaures Foundation, a left-leaning think-tank, told AFP.

Macron, the fervently pro-European centrist sworn in as head of state on Sunday, in keeping with tradition made his first trip overseas to Berlin, its power couple partner at the heart of the European project.

He is Merkel's fourth French president in almost 12 years as German leader.

Then, a large crowd outside the chancellery welcomed Macron to Berlin, with some waving European Union flags.

Macron previously met Merkel when he visited Berlin in March as a candidate.

Philippe's appointment triggered potshots from the far right and radical left, who shared some 40% of the vote in April's presidential election first round and are hoping to build on their respective success in the parliamentary elections.

And both count well-connected political advisor and writer Jacques Attali as well as late Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard as influences during their ascent through French political life.

Appearing at a handover ceremony with outgoing Socialist prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who is also from Normandy, Philippe joked that Normans were "aggressively moderate" as well as "conquerors".

UN Security Council condemns N. Korea's missile test
But Russia's defence ministry later said the missile landed about 500 kilometres from its territory and posed no threat. North Korea says it has no choice but to advance its nuclear and missile development to defend itself from attack.

Philippe was the expected choice for PM, though he was not well known in France until last week, according to The New York Times. The red carpet was rolled out for Philippe, 46, named earlier Monday by new President Emmanuel Macron to form his first government.

Later this month Macron will hold talks with Donald Trump, when the U.S. president - believed to have preferred Le Pen over Macron - visits Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit.

"Will this new prime minister support the candidates of En Marche of the President. or will he support the candidates of The Republicans-UDI, the candidates of his own political family?" Voters go to the polls again in June to elect the 577 lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Macron needs a majority to push through his ambitious plans to loosen France's strict labour laws, boost entrepreneurship and reduce class sizes in tough neighbourhoods.

Philippe is close to former presidential candidate Alain Juppe.

Meanwhile, Mr Juppe described the new prime minister as "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the hard job".

Republicans secretary general Bernard Accoyer said the move had created "ambiguity" over what political line Mr Philippe would follow.

He has been Mayor of Le Havre since 2010.

In his first speech as president on Sunday, Macron promised to restore France's shattered self-confidence and help rebuild the flagging European Union.

Philippe's appointment ticks several boxes for the 39-year-old Macron, France's youngest president, who took power on Sunday.

His age reinforces the generational shift in France's corridors of power and the image of youthful vigour that Mr Macron is cultivating.

The presidential Elysee Palace announced the timing in a statement on Twitter.

This item has been corrected to show the GMT time is 1230 GMT, not 1330 GMT. She replied: "I am the last person who is going to come and say what France has to do".

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