The ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’ team
What to make of Hollande’s administration.
The composition of the new French government poses some intriguing questions about the approach of François Hollande, the new president, towards the European Union.
Pierre Moscovici, who has been made minister for the economy, finance and foreign trade, is well known to EU circles. He had two stints as a member of the European Parliament, in 1994-97 and 2004-07, and was Europe minister in the government of Lionel Jospin, 1997-2002.
But how much say will Moscovici, who was campaign manager for Hollande, have over policy on Europe? The foreign minister is Laurent Fabius, who will not be so fondly regarded in Brussels. Fabius, who was an improbably young prime minister back in 1984-86 and an MEP in 1989-2002, seared his way into the EU’s collective memory in 2005 when he was the leading French socialist to oppose ratification of the EU’s constitutional treaty. He was assisted in that (successful) campaign by Bernard Cazeneuve, who has now been appointed as Europe minister.
Among the other ministers, Stéphane Le Foll, who has been appointed agriculture minister, has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004 and was a vice-chairman of the agriculture committee.
Vincent Peillon, an MEP since 2004, is the new education minister, while Kader Arif, who entered the European Parliament the same year, becomes junior minister for veteran affairs.
Marie-Arlette Carlotti, who becomes junior minister for people with disabilities, was an MEP from 1996 to 2009.
Philippe Léglise-Costa, France’s deputy permanent representative to the EU, will move to the Elysée to become Hollande’s secretary-general of European affairs and will be replaced in Brussels by Alexis Dutertre.
? Has the German government become a little less Euro-friendly? The failure of the Christian Democrats (CDU) in elections in North-Rhine Westphalia on 13 May triggered the resignation of Norbert Röttgen from his post as head of the CDU in the region. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, then axed the 46-year-old Röttgen from her government, where he had been minister for the environment. That means that the government has lost a very pro-EU voice (although his replacement as minister, Peter Altmaier, served for four years in the European Commission in the 1990s).
Last November at the CDU’s congress, Röttgen was calling for the direct elections of a president of the European Commission, a bicameral political system for the EU, and simultaneous parliamentary elections across the EU.
Röttgen worked closely with Werner Hoyer, of the German liberal party, the FDP, which is the junior partner in the government coalition, when Hoyer was Europe minister. He has since been shifted to head the European Investment Bank. It would seem that the Euro-enthusiasts are in decline.