Macron names new environment minister in France
Appointment comes after TV star Nicolas Hulot surprisingly resigned last weekEuropost
The speaker of the French National Assembly, Francois de Rugy, has been named environment minister to replace former TV presenter Nicolas Hulot, whose shock resignation was announced last week. Hulot was among the most popular ministers in the government and his resignations was a serious blow to the government, causing a further fall of President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in the opinion polls.
De Rugy, speaker of the National Assembly and a former green lawmaker now in the ruling LREM (La République en marche) party, is known as a pragmatist who backed Macron’s decision last year to delay the phased reduction of France's nuclear energy. First elected to parliament in 2007 with the European Greens, he quit the party in 2015, criticising its “leftist drift” under the presidency of Francois Hollande and founded his own green party insted.
A big issue for de Rugy will be a decision on whether to reduce the role of nuclear power in France’s energy mix, since the government had talked of cutting nuclear to 50 percent from 75 percent of power production, but backed away from the goal, mostly because of the stiff resistance from EDF and energy unions which have battled against the government over cutting nuclear use and instead campaigned for France to build new reactors.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday swimming champion Roxana Maracineanu has replaced Laura Flessel, who surprised the political world by announcing her resignation on Tuesday morning.
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. But economic growth has been slower than forecast. Macron sold the pro-business reform drive on promises that it will boost growth and jobs, but voters – from typically conservative pensioners to low-income workers – complain the president’s policies favour big business and the wealthy. An impending reform of France's tax collection methods that will mandate at-source monthly payments has also reportedly run into technical troubles.