Emmanuel Macron holds first Cabinet meeting

Macron spoke alongside Merkel at a news conference in Berlin on May 15, hours after he named conservative politician Edouard Philippe as his prime minister.

Macron, 39, who smashed the traditional left-right grip on French politics to win the presidency, gave ministerial jobs to conservatives, socialists and political newcomers Wednesday, appointing an unprecedented all-stripes Cabinet to bridge divides and broaden his support.

France’s new energy minister Nicolas Hulot, a well-known environmentalist, will have to apply President Emmanuel Macron’s policy on nuclear energy, the government said on Thursday after its first cabinet meeting.

The armed forces are now led by 52-year-old centrist, pro-European Sylvie Goulard.

The Harris Interactive poll found Macron’s share of the vote in the first round of the National Assembly elections on June 11 had risen – up three points from a similar poll on May 11 and up six points from a poll on May 7.

“If the prime minister comes from the right, Emmanuel Macron will be able to attack the parliamentary elections by dynamiting the right, in the same way he has done to the left”, political expert Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet told AFP.

A former economy minister under France’s previous president, Socialist Francois Hollande, Macron is the youngest post-war French leader and the first to be born after 1958, when President Charles de Gaulle set up the Fifth Republic.

Without his own parliamentary majority, the former investment banker will find it hard to push through his planned reforms of the labour market, pensions, unemployment benefits and education.

In part that’s because Berlin is overwhelmingly relieved that it’s not Marine Le Pen walking up the red carpet.

Mr Macron said that he would work with Mrs Merkel on a “road map”, and that they needed to work on “deep reforms that are necessary and need common work”. Merkel said that, from Germany’s viewpoint, treaty change would be possible, adding: “I would be ready to do this, but first we will work on what we want to reform”. Europe’s so-called Franco-German motor has often worked best in the past when leaders of opposite political persuasions have been in power.

Merkel welcomed Macron’s victory over Le Pen, saying he carried “the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe”.

Macron’s office says that the meeting, attended by the country’s most senior military and security officials, focused on the operations of French armed forces overseas -mostly in Africa’s Sahel region, Iraq and Syria.

His wife Brigitte, a 64-year-old who was his high school drama teacher, attended the ceremony and a later meeting at the Paris town hall wearing a light blue Louis Vuitton outfit.

In his inaugural address, Macron vowed to restore France’s place in Europe and the world. He leaves office after a single term.