Macron to unveil first French government

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

From the outgoing Socialist government, Jean-Yves le Drian, ex-defense minister and a close ally to former president Francois Hollande was the sole survivor.

The 69-year-old is also considered France's super salesman - selling Rafales fighter jets to Egypt, India, Qatar and submarines to Australia.

Conservative Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, whom Macron named on Monday, will lead the government, at least until the parliamentary elections scheduled for June.

As interior minister, he picked Gerard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon who was one of the first Socialists to be a vocal supporter of Macron.

The announcement has been a delayed while the authorities checked the tax records and backgrounds of potential ministers, to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe intend to reach a balance between the world of politics and business, which had never been among priorities of traditional left and right policies, Republique En Marche (REM, or Republic On Move) party candidate for the general election Jean Viard told Sputnik.

Macron is expected to visit French troops in Africa later this week.

Other appointments included Francois Bayrou, the head of the centrist Modem party, as justice minister and Marielle de Sarnez as junior Europe minister.

Le Maire served as a former minister of state for European affairs under Sarkozy from 2008 to 2009.

More than 20 French media organizations signed an open letter to Macron on Thursday night to express their concerns.

Nicolas Hulot, a highly-popular former wildlife documentary TV presenter, seen as the Gallic David Attenborough, was named Environment Minister.

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.

France's new president is hosting the International Olympic Committee to try to boost Paris' bid to beat out Los Angeles in the heated race for the 2024 Games.

Meanwhile the Republicans' deputy secretary general Éric Ciotti was quoted as calling the pro-Macron initiative "a slap" rather than an outstretched hand - suggesting supporting Republicans were opportunistically seeking a role in the new government.

The first ministerial cabinet meeting will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. France local time according to sources published to same global news agencies on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright