Monday, 24th November 2014

France's Hollande names young faces to promote reforms, unity


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French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday handed the task to promote ailing growth and weak industry to Emmanuel Macron, former Deputy General Secretary of the presidency office who replaced the ousted anti-austerity policy Arnaud Montebourg.

Macron, former Hollande's economic advisor, was one of main figures that forged the "responsibility pact," a flagship piece of the Socialists' roadmap to revive the sluggish growth in Europe's main powerhouse.

With the fresh growth estimate putting the eurozone's second largest economy at 0.5 percent, down from an initial forecast of 1 percent, the former banking official would be tasked of implementing the controversial reform pact with which the government targets to cut public spending by 50 billion euros (65.86 billion U.S.dollars) by 2017 and labor tax by 30 billion euros to create more jobs.

Najat-Vallaud Belkacem, ex-minister of Women Rights, Youth and Sports, replaced Benoit Hamon and will oversight over France's education and research. The 36-year-old Socialist was the first female minister to take in charge the sensitive portfolio of National Education, Higher Education and Research.

In a cabinet reshuffle forced by critics of Montebourg over the government's policy that hurts economic growth to bring down public deficit, Fleur Pellerin, minister charged with foreign trade and tourism promotion will replace Aurelie Filippetti who refused to take part in the new cabinet.

For his second cabinet in five months, Prime Minister Manuel Valls will head 16 ministers, of which 8 were female, with Laurent Fabius remaining top diplomat, Michel Sapin Finance Minister and Segolene Royal in charge of ecology.

In a pro-reform cabinet set "to ensure consistent behavior, respect and solidarity," Hollande's Greens coalition partners refused to join the new list as "the conditions for the participation of environmentalists are not met," tweeted the Green senator Jean-Vincent Place.

With about 41 Socialist lawmakers opposing Hollande's main reforms at the National Assembly, the absence of the Greens likely to undermine the president's majority and block his reforms.

However, the French prime minister said, "There is the vast majority of Socialist deputies who support (the government)."

"The policy we are conducting is the best and we must continue. We are not following an austerity policy ... We planned to make 50 billion euros of savings and will not save more because it would not be bearable," he told the state-run TV channel France2.

The new cabinet will hold its first meeting on Wednesday. PARIS, Aug. 26 (Xinhua)


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