PARIS, September 4, 2018 (News Wires) - French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to draw a line under a raft of troubles plaguing his 16-month-old presidency and to re-energise his economic reform drive with a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.
Macron was forced into the move by the surprise exit of his former ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, who said he despaired at what he felt were hollow commitments on environmental policy.
Resigning live on air last week, Hulot's resignation was a setback for the 40-year-old French leader, who returned from the summer break reeling from a bodyguard scandal and preparing to embark on a new wave of economic reforms.
Benjamin Griveaux, government spokesman, said the cabinet would be complete in time for Wednesday morning's weekly cabinet meeting but was tight-lipped on the scope of the rejig.
Hours before the expected announcement, Sports Minister Laura Flessel said she was resigning from the government for personal reasons.
"I will continue to be a faithful team mate of the president and prime minister, whose determination I admire and whose values and patriotism I share," said Flessel, a former Olympic fencing champion and one of Macron's most popular ministers.
For much of Macron's first year in power, the former investment banker appeared untouchable, self-assured and unphased by his falling popularity as he pushed through investor-friendly reforms with a business-like efficiency.
Recently, however, Macron has looked more vulnerable.
Economic growth is slower than forecast, undermining his deficit-busting credentials. Usually decisive, he is wavering on an impending tax collection reform. Meanwhile, voters are growing impatient with his monarchical style and sharp tongue.
"It wasn't supposed to happen to this president. He promised to be audacious in his reforms, efficient in the exercise of power, and the embodiment of dignity. In his first few months the promise was kept, but now everything is going wrong," the right-leaning Le Figaro said in an editorial on Monday.
HELSINKI, August 30, 2018 (Reuters) - The European Union needs a strategic relationship with Turkey, including in defense matters, and should modernise its post-Cold War relations with Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.
Macron is a strong advocate for a Europe that is able to defend its strategic interests and financial independence and respond to new global economic and defense situation brought on by Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States.
He has sought to improve relations with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, although his efforts have been complicated by allegations of Russian meddling in elections from the United States to France and a nerve agent attack in Britain.
“It is in our interest for the EU to have a strategic relationship with Turkey as well as with Russia that brings stability, that will in the long term bring more strength and coherency,” Macron said in a news conference in Helsinki alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
He said the EU’s relations with Russia needed to be “brought up to date”, using the Italian word “aggiornamento”.
“I think that on matters like cybersecurity, defense, strategic relationships, we could envisage the outlines of a new relationship between Russia and the EU which is coherent with the direction Europe is headed in,” Macron said.
“Stability in the whole region is in our interest.”
PARIS, July 25, 2018 (News Wires) - French President Emmanuel Macron came under fresh criticism from opposition leaders on Wednesday after appearing to dare opponents to take him on over a scandal surrounding his senior bodyguard and ripping into the media in front of supporters.
Critics say Macron’s office failed to properly punish Alexandre Benalla, the head of his security detail, or refer him promptly to judicial authorities over the incident, which has sparked the biggest political crisis of his tenure.
Footage showed Benalla, who was fired on Friday, hitting a male protester and dragging away a woman while off duty and wearing a riot helmet and police tags.
Appearing at a closed-door event in front of his own lawmakers and ministers on Tuesday, Macron said he alone was responsible for what happened. Macron has not spoken to the media since last week.
“If they want to hold someone responsible, he is standing before you, they can come and get him,” he said, in a video leaked to the media.
Opposition leaders dismissed the comments as bravado.
Far-left lawmaker Alexis Corbiere accused Macron of trying to bully the opposition.
Macron also slammed the media, echoing language that has been used by US President Donald Trump to defend his own actions.
The crisis began when the newspaper Le Monde identified the man beating a protester on a video as Benalla.
“We have a press that is no longer pursuing the truth,” Macron said. “What I see is media power that wants to become judicial power.”
The head of Human Rights Watch in France, Benedicte Jeannerot, tweeted that Macron’s remarks were “dangerous rhetoric while journalists across the world are under attack by populist leaders and autocrats to discredit or stifle any criticism of power”.
PARIS, July 14, 2018 (News Wiers) - France celebrated Bastille Day on Saturday with a colorful military parade in Paris presided by President Emmanuel Macron, and hoped the party would continue on Sunday when the national soccer team meets Croatia in the World Cup final in Russia.
Standing on a military vehicle flanked by motorcycle escorts and led by a cavalry procession, Macron rode down the Champs Elysees, Paris's most famous boulevard, for his second July 14 parade, cheered by hundreds of spectators.
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of a prison in 1789, a key event in the French Revolution.
After U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, Macron this year invited the leaders of Japan and Singapore, two Asian nations with long-standing strategic partnership with France.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who canceled to deal with deadly floods at home, was represented by Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
The more than two-hour parade, with some 4,200 soldiers, 220 vehicles and around 100 aircrafts, saw Japanese and Singaporean soldiers take part as guests of honor.
There were two glitches, though, as two motorcycles collided during a demonstration in front of guests, while an Alpha jet from the Air Force Patrouille de France acrobatic unit released a wrong color for the French flag during a formation flight.
France has mobilized around 110,000 security staff for the Bastille Day festivities and World Cup soccer final.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets, from Paris to the smallest of villages, and the celebrations are likely to continue long into Sunday night if France lifts the World Cup for the second time.
"Perhaps it will be us marching on the Champs Elysees tomorrow, we hope," said Philippe on BFM Television, who traveled to Paris to watch the military parade and plans to return on Sunday to celebrate if France wins.
LAGOS, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) - France’s president on Tuesday visited a nightclub founded by legendary Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti which has a reputation as a hedonistic haven filled with frenetic music, scantily clad podium dancers and the stench of marijuana smoke.
Emmanuel Macron arrived at the famous venue in the Nigerian city of Lagos, just hours after holding talks and a joint news conference with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital, Abuja, at the start of a two-day visit to the West African country.
During the news conference he stated his commitment to helping the fight against Islamist militants in the northeast, before embarking on the hour-long flight to Lagos to visit the New Afrika Shrine.
The venue replaced the famed original - created by Fela - which burned down in 1977. It is managed by the musician’s sons Femi and Seun who continue their father’s musical and cultural tradition.
Fela - a singer, composer and saxophonist - pioneered the Afrobeat sound by combining organ riffs with West African drumming and brass instruments. He was famed for his sexual exploits, marijuana smoking and fearless critiques of Nigeria’s military regime.
PARIS, May 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Fresh from saying "sorry" to European lawmakers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds talks with Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday where he will face renewed pressure over his company's tax policies.
Zuckerberg apologised to the European Parliament on Tuesday for the "harm" caused by a huge breach of users' data and by a failure to crack down on fake news.
And in a sign of the increasingly hostile environment for the social media giant in Europe, he is likely to face another grilling in France which has led efforts in the EU to force US tech giants to pay more tax.
Facebook, along with Google, Apple and Amazon, are in the sights of Macron and other EU leaders over their use of low-tax countries such as Ireland to reduce their corporate tax rate to nominal levels.
Macron "is looking to start a dialogue" with tech bosses "to have discussions that will sometimes be frank and direct, to talk about regulation and international governance," an aide said.
Zuckerberg has been invited along with around 60 other tech bosses including Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi, IBM's Ginni Rometty, SAP's Bill McDermott and Jimmy Wales from Wikimedia.
As well as talking tax regulation and the battle against fake news, which Macron has also vowed to tackle, the 40-year-old French president will be keen to stress his pro-business credentials at the "Tech for Good" summit.
The former investment banker is desperate to attract more foreign investment to France and has vowed to turn the country into a "start-up nation."