Macron pick for French premier about to be named

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist pro-Europe independent, was officially inaugurated as France's 25th president on Sunday.

"Leader of the French far-right, Marine Le Pen, who lost the presidency to Macron, said in a statement that "Philippe's nomination is the ideal summary of the last 10 years in France, this 'sacred" alliance between the old right and left".

A relatively unknown politician, Mr Philippe previously worked as a director of public affairs for French nuclear group Areva from 2007-2010.

Merkel has hailed Macron s election win, saying he carries "the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe".

The announcement was made on Monday by Alexis Kohler, Macron's new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace.

In a nod to German concerns, Macron said at the news conference with Merkel that he had never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds and doesn't favor European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts.

Macron, who was economy minister in the outgoing Socialist government of ex-president Francois Hollande, has already attracted dozens of centre-left MPs to his movement as he reshapes French political life.

His visit to Merkel is in keeping with France s presidential tradition of making Berlin the first foreign port of call.

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He is married, has three children and speaks German, which could come in handy as Macron seeks to persuade Berlin to join his ambitious efforts to "reform and relaunch" the European Union.

He was the spokesman of moderate Alain Juppe during the right-center primary in November past year before joining the campaign of Republicans nominee Francois Fillon for the presidency race.

Mr Macron is France's youngest leader since Napoleon and the first to be born after 1958, when a presidential system was set up.

The choice of Philippe is aimed at drawing more defectors from The Republicans, in the same way as Macron's decision not to put up an REM candidate in Manuel Valls' constituency pulls the Socialist former prime minister closer, and makes it hard for a divided left to re-unite. The former banker meets Merkel a day after her conservatives won a regional vote in Germany's most populous state.

The visit signaled Macron's intentions to move rapidly on campaign promises to revive support for the beleaguered European Union by reforming and strengthening it.

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".

The appointment is crucial for Mr Macron, who needs to do well in next month's parliamentary elections to push through his planned economic reforms.

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