French president to meet EU's Tusk, reveal minister picks

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The head of France's main conservative party disowned his colleague Edouard Philippe on Tuesday for taking up the job of prime minister under centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

A statement said the president was going above and beyond what is required by law in scrutinizing his ministers' financial affairs.

The delay was to allow checks to be made on their tax status "whereas the law stipulates that this check only needs to be done after they are named", the presidency said.

Macron had promised to include people from civil society in his government.

The move is seen as a bid to draw in leading figures from the conservative opposition to Macron's La Republique En Marche (Republic on the Move) group ahead of crucial legislative elections next month.

By appointing him, Macron has passed over some loyal followers including Richard Ferrand, a former Socialist who was one of the first to join Macron's cause previous year and is secretary general of REM. He is a member of the Republicans, a mainstream-right party whose candidate Macron beat in the first round of the election.

While some in the Republicans fumed at Philippe's appointment, seeing it as a betrayal, others urged the party to accept Macron's "outstretched hand".

Appearing earlier at a handover ceremony with outgoing Socialist prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who is also from Normandy, Philippe joked that Normans were "aggressively moderate" as well as "conquerors". Nicolas Hulot, the well-known host of a television show focusing on nature and the environment, was named minister for environment transition.

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There were pockets of empty seats between each little band of them and they hardly looked at one another through the entire thing. There was agreement across everyone that this should happen.

Current Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to be the only survivor from the government of Francois Hollande, who left office last weekend after an unpopular five-year term.

Another close Macron ally, the socialist mayor of Lyon, Gerard Collomb, 69, takes on the key portfolio of interior minister.

Tusk was one of the first prominent European voices to congratulate Macron on his May 7 presidential election runoff victory over far-right and anti-EU politician Marine Le Pen.

Germany is looking to Macron to revitalize France as an economic power and political heavyweight in an European Union facing complex divorce proceedings with Britain.

Merkel said they had "a common understanding that we can't just focus on Britain leaving the European Union".

Macron is the conservative Merkel's fourth French president in almost 12 years as chancellor.

"We have to think about how we can deepen and crisis-proof the European Union, and especially the eurozone", she said. Macron and Merkel were all smiles inside, and the German leader declared that "Europe will only do well if there is a strong France, and I am committed to that".

"From the German point of view, it's possible to change the treaty if it makes sense", she said.

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