New French prime minister's party says appointment ambiguous

France's new President Emmanuel Macron named Edouard Philippe, a little-known centre-right mayor, as prime minister on Monday, in his first major decision since taking power on a promise to lead a French "renaissance". 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". He joined the Socialist Party when he was young before switching to the center-right.

The newly appointed prime minister will have to reveal his government by Tuesday.

Bruno Le Maire‏, a veteran LR lawmaker who has also been pushing for a rapprochement with Macron, congratulated Philippe on Twitter, saying: "Let's go beyond the old divides to be of use to France and the French people."Philippe began his political life as a Socialist activist affiliated to former prime minister Michel Rocard while he was a student, before turning to the right.A trained lawyer, he worked as public affairs director for the state nuclear group Areva between 2007 and 2010, before becoming a member of parliament in 2012, and then mayor of Le Havre in 2014.a year ago he was part of Juppe's unsuccessful campaign team in The Republicans' primaries, and then joined the presidential campaign of Francois Fillon, the party's nominee".

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".

Defeated by a Macron landslide, she denounced what she predicted would be a continuation of old policies, including "austerity, submission to Brussels, massive immigration".

Centre-right Philippe is named new French PM
Prior to that, Philippe campaigned with Alain Juppe, Fillon's rival in The Republican primaries and a veteran party moderate. Then, a large crowd outside the chancellery welcomed Macron to Berlin , with some waving European Union flags.

France's new president has said he wants a mix of experience and new blood - a balance he has attempted to achieve in his slate of candidates for the June 11-18 election.

The two-round legislative elections are scheduled to take place on June 11 and June 18 and will elect 577 members of the National Assembly, France's lower and more powerful house of parliament.

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won almost 20% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.

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

Macron needs a parliamentary majority to push through his ambitious plans to loosen France's strict labour laws, boost entrepreneurship and reduce class sizes in tough neighbourhoods.

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"The right has just been annexed, with a prime minister taken from its ranks, from the Republicans", Mr Melenchon said.

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 28-nation European Union faces complex divorce proceedings with Britain, its current No. 2 economy.

When Britain leaves the bloc in 2019, France will be the EU's only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Mr Macron is the conservative Mrs Merkel's fourth French president in almost 12 years as chancellor. She built a solid relationship with Macron's predecessor, Socialist Francois Hollande, despite their political differences - notably with their joint effort to secure an accord to calm the fighting in eastern Ukraine in tense talks in Minsk, Belarus in 2015.

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