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France's Macron picks PM from the right, blowing apart old boundaries

16 May 2017

Macron's party Le Republique en Marche has unveiled more than 400 candidates for June's elections.

A source close to Macron said he would seek to convince Merkel to back his "protection agenda" for Europe which includes a "Buy European Act" and regulations to prevent strategic firms from falling into non-European hands.

Macron said in addition he plans to push for economic reforms in France in the coming months in order to fight the country's high unemployment rate.

Past year he was part of Juppe's unsuccessful campaign team in The Republicans' primaries, and then joined the presidential campaign of Francois Fillon, the party's nominee.

It is the first time in modern French political history that a president has appointed a prime minister from outside his camp without being forced to by a defeat in parliamentary elections.

German media, including influential tabloid Bild and news magazine Der Spiegel, have recently drawn attention to the danger of Macron's presidency costing Germany more money.

Philippe began his political life as a Socialist activist affiliated to former prime minister Michel Rocard while he was a student, before turning to the right.

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won almost 20 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.

A trained lawyer, he worked as public affairs director for the state nuclear group Areva between 2007 and 2010, before becoming a member of parliament in 2012, and then mayor of Le Havre in 2014. Voters go to the polls again in June to elect the 577 lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Reacting to Mr Philippe's appointment, Mr Juppe called the new prime minister "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the hard job". Philippe quit that cause when Fillon's campaign was hit by a financial scandal over publicly funded jobs for members of his family.

One of Mr Macron's aides welcomed the appointment as "a good move", telling AFP it would help the president "break the right". Including the "thank you" at the end, the announcement of Philippe's appointment, delivered by the presidency's new secretary general, took just eight seconds.

His age reinforces the generational shift in France's corridors of power and the image of youthful vigour that Mr Macron is cultivating. She built a solid relationship with Macron's predecessor, Socialist Francois Hollande, despite their political differences - notably with their joint effort to secure an accord to calm the fighting in eastern Ukraine in tense talks in Minsk, Belarus in 2015.

Merkel has praised Macron's embrace of European unity but has offered few concrete details about the way forward for German-French relations.

As far as France's relations with the United States go, Macron is a true-blue proponent of trans-Atlantic solidarity, which he sees as a guarantor of European and global security, Sergei Fyodorov continued. "It's tough. especially for the longest-serving ones", he said.

Macron's trip to Berlin, his first as president, signals his intent to also move rapidly on campaign promises to revive support for the European Union by reforming and strengthening it.