New French prime minister is relatively unknown

PARIS (AP) - France's new prime minister, 46-year-old Edouard Philippe, is close to Alain Juppe, a former prime minister who campaigned for the French presidency but was beaten in a primary.

Reacting to Philippe's appointment Monday by President Emmanuel Macron, Juppe called the new prime minister "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the difficult job."

Philippe served as Juppe's campaign spokesman during the Republicans party primary. When Juppe was beaten, Philippe switched his support to Francois Fillon for the French presidency but then quit the campaign when prosecutors started investigating allegations that Fillon's family benefited illegally from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs.

The mayor of Le Havre since 2010, Philippe previously worked as a director of public affairs for French nuclear group Areva from 2007-2010 and as a lawyer from 2004-2007 with New York City-based international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP.

French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Edouard Philippe, a relatively unknown 46-year-old lawmaker, as prime minister, making good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.

Alexis Kohler, Macron's new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement Monday.

Philippe is the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers. He's also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party that was badly battered by Macron's victory in the presidential campaign.

Philippe's appointment ticks several boxes for the 39-year-old Macron, France's youngest president, who took power on Sunday. Philippe's age reinforces the generational shift in France's corridors of power and the image of youthful vigor that Macron is cultivating.

Philippe could also attract other Republicans to Macron's cause as the centrist president works to piece together a majority in parliament to pass his promised economic reforms.

French President Emmanuel Macron's choice for prime minister is about to be named at 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT).

The presidential Elysee Palace announced the timing in a statement on Twitter.

It says Alexis Kohler, Macron's new general secretary at the Elysee, will make the announcement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she has no intention of telling France what to do as new President Emmanuel Macron tries to revive his country's economy.

Merkel was asked before a meeting with Macron on Monday whether she would recommend that he conduct labor market reforms similar to Germany's over a decade ago. She replied: "I am the last person who is going to come and say what France has to do."

Merkel said it's important for French people, particularly the young, to have more hope of jobs. She added that there have been many proposals over the years for the development of the 19-nation eurozone.

She said: "I will of course discuss this with him, and I will say (we are) open to getting something done together."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the election of new French President Emmanuel Macron offers an opportunity to bring new dynamism to Europe.

Macron is to meet Merkel in Berlin later Monday on his first foreign trip, a day after he took office. Germany and France are the traditional motor of European integration.

Merkel said ahead of the meeting: "Germany will in the long term only do well if Europe does well, and the election of the new French president offers us the opportunity to bring dynamism to European development."

The German leader added that "we will do everything to develop good initiatives with the new president, Emmanuel Macron."

___

9:10 a.m.

On his first full day in office, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to move quickly Monday on fronts foreign and domestic, meeting in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel and possibly unveiling his choice of prime minister.

Among names being bandied around for the top job in Macron's first government, speculation is mostly centering on Edouard Philippe. The 46-year-old lawmaker, largely unknown to voters, is a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party. His appointment would be seen as an effort by the centrist Macron to build a majority in parliament by drawing in politicians from the right.

Macron's trip to Berlin, his first as president, signals his intent to also move rapidly on campaign promises to revive support for the European Union by reforming and strengthening it.