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Macron keeps big names in place in Cabinet reshuffle



PARIS — After promising reinvention for the rest of his term, French President Emmanuel Macron opted for a limited government reshuffle that kept key figures in place while aiming to beef up ministries to revive the economy.

In recent months, Macron and his officials had talked about resetting the government for the final two years of his first presidential term, with some suggesting a pivot to focus more on environmental and social policies. But the new ministerial team announced on Monday has familiar faces in many of the top jobs.

Jean-Yves Le Drian will continue to lead the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs while Bruno Le Maire retains his position as finance minister, with a slight amendment to his title to make clear he is responsible for the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Florence Parly remains defense minister.

The biggest change comes at the Interior Ministry, where outgoing Budget Minister Gérald Darmanin takes over. Like new Prime Minister Jean Castex, who was appointed on Friday, Darmanin is a conservative who is close to former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The line-up does not suggest a major political reinvention. Its most notable innovation is the importance given to managing economic recovery across the board, by expanding several ministries like the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Environment.

Unlike in his two previous government line-ups, Macron has not recruited new, high-profile figures from the traditional parties. Instead, the new Cabinet attempts to maintain Macron’s tenuous balance of combining left- and right-wing policies, though some of its highest-profile ministers are former conservative party members.

The new Cabinet also includes at least two ministers with ongoing court cases despite an initial promise by Macron that members of his government would be above reproach.

Darmanin, the new interior minister, is under investigation over an allegation of rape, which he denies. He replaces Christophe Castaner, a close Macron ally who has been embattled for many months, most recently losing the trust of police unions.

The new justice minister is a firebrand high-profile lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti, who has a difficult relationship with the judiciary, and is currently suing for what he alleges was illegal snooping into his communications.

Amélie de Montchalin, the outgoing junior minister for European affairs, is promoted to become minister of transformation and the public sector, a kind of whip for the government in charge of delivering results. There was no immediate announcement of her successor as secretary of state for European affairs.

A new ministerial position was also created: minister of the sea. The ministry is meant to reflect environmental and biodiversity concerns but also the geopolitics of France’s relationship with China, as France has territories in the Pacific, according to an Elysée official.

Barbara Pompili — a former member of the Green party who served as secretary of state for biodiversity from 2016 to 2017, before joining Macron’s party La République en Marche as an MP — is the new environment minister.

Castex, the new prime minister, replaced Edouard Philippe, who served as Macron’s head of government for the first three years of his term.

Macron and Castex spent much of the weekend making calls and meeting to put together the new government. They will announce additional secretaries of state, the most junior ministerial rank in the Cabinet, in the coming days.

In another sign of the even more assertive role Macron intends to play for the rest of his term, he will lay out his coming priorities on July 14 — a few days before the new prime minister outlines the government’s guiding policies. Castex had said on Friday that he would deliver that speech this week.

This article has been updated.



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