The condition of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, is stable, and tests had given reassuring results, a statement from his office said Saturday.
Macron, who is working in self-isolation from an official residence outside Paris, “is still presenting the same symptoms of the Covid-19 illness (fatigue, coughing, stiffness)”, said the brief statement, signed by his doctor.
But they were not preventing him from carrying out his duties.
On Friday, Macron had promised to provide a daily update and, for the time, posted on social media a short video message filmed on his own phone.
Speaking of the general situation in France, where the number of deaths passed 60,000 on Friday, he warned: “We have to be vigilant as the virus is gaining in strength again.”
The French authorities are concerned that the holiday period could see a new spike in infections.
On Friday, a total of 15,674 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours in France, down from 18,254 the previous day.
And the so-called positivity rate — which measures the number of confirmed contaminations as a proportion of the number of tests carried out — slipped slightly to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent on Thursday.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held his first telephone talks with Joe Biden since the Democrat was elected the next president of the United States, his Elysee Palace office said.
The talks between Biden and Macron, who sought to form a solid working relationship with outgoing President Donald Trump, focused on international cooperation on the main global issues, it added.
“The president congratulated Joe Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris and emphasised his desire to work together on the current issues — climate, health, the fight against terrorism and the defence of fundamental rights,” the Elysee said.
Macron has never met Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama from 2008-2016 before Macron arrived at the Elysee in 2017.
In contrast to some other EU leaders, Macron sought from the outset to build a strong relationship with Trump, hosting him for a high profile visit to Paris in 2017 and then again for the 2019 G7 summit in Biarritz.
But analysts say that the French leader has little to show for the diplomacy, with vast differences between Paris and Washington on issues ranging from Iran to the taxation of digital giants.
France will move forward with its planned deployment of 5G telecom networks despite detractors who would prefer “the Amish model” and “going back to the oil lamp”, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.
Nearly 70 left-wing elected officials and environmentalists called on Sunday for a moratorium on 5G technology, which is due to be rolled out in France at the end of the month.
5G networks are touted as promising an exponential leap in the amount and speed of wireless data, enabling advances in self-driving vehicles, virtual reality, connected health and more as sensors and servers communicate instantly.
But the technology has come under scrutiny, and officials have called for more studies on the environmental and health impacts of its infrastructure.
“France is the country of innovation… We are going to put to rest all false ideas,” Macron told entrepreneurs at a gathering of French tech start-ups at the Elysee Palace.
“I hear a lot of voices being raised to explain to us that the complexity of contemporary problems should be addressed by going back to the oil lamp. I don’t believe that the Amish model can solve the challenges of contemporary ecology,” Macron joked, referring to the American community which is suspicious of technology.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called for speedy international backing for disaster-struck Lebanon and urged its leaders to prevent “chaos” as he opened an emergency aid conference following Beirut’s deadly port blast.
Macron hosted US President Donald Trump and other world leaders for the virtual conference to drum up aid for Lebanon, as the UN said some $117 million will be needed over the next three months for the emergency response.
“The objective today is to act quickly and effectively to coordinate our aid on the ground so that it goes as efficiently as possible to the Lebanese people,” Macron told the conference also attended by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock, representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the IMF, the EU, the Arab League and several Middle Eastern leaders.
Macron was the first world leader to visit Beirut after Tuesday’s devastating explosion which killed at least 158 people, wounded some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless.
Lebanese people enraged by the official negligence blamed for the explosion have taken to the streets in anti-government protests that saw clashes with the army.
Macron said it was “up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut.
“We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails,” he added. “It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake.”
Macron also warned that “those who have an interest in this division and chaos, it is the powers that would somehow want to put the Lebanese people at risk”. He did not name names.
– Millions of dollars needed –
The French president repeated his call for political and economic reforms, which he said “would allow the international community to act effectively side by side with Lebanon for the reconstruction.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Saturday that he would call for early elections.
An “emergency response framework” drafted by the United Nations said $66.3 million was needed for immediate humanitarian aid, including health services for the injured, emergency shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, food distribution and programmes to “prevent further spread of COVID-19”.
Phase II of the plan will require $50.6 million to rebuild public infrastructure, rehabilitate private homes and prevent disease outbreaks.
It said at least 15 medical facilities, including three major hospitals, sustained structural damage in the blast, and extensive damage to more than 120 schools may interrupt learning for some 55,000 children.
Thousands of people are in need of food and the blast interrupted basic water and sanitation to many neighbourhoods.
Speaking in Beirut after his visit on Thursday, Macron said clear and transparent governance will be put in place to ensure all international aid “is directly chanelled to the people, to NGOs, to the teams in the field who need it, without any possible opacity or diversion.”
– ‘Everyone wants to help’-
Trump, confirming his attendance at the conference, tweeted Saturday that “everyone wants to help!”.
Israel, with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations, was not on the list of participants, nor Iran which wields huge influence in Lebanon through the Shiite group Hezbollah.
Key Arab states in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and the UAE were represented, as were Britain, China, Jordan and Egypt.
Macron, who hosted the conference from his summer residence on the Mediterranean, has said he would return to Lebanon on September 1 to check progress.
French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday called for an international investigation into the blast at Beirut’s port that killed more than 130 people and ravaged entire neighbourhoods, costing the country billions.
“An international, open and transparent probe is needed to prevent things from remaining hidden and doubt from creeping in,” he told reporters at the end of a snap visit to the Lebanese capital.
In asking for an international enquiry, he joined calls widely supported in and outside Lebanon for an independent probe, and said French investigators were on their way to Beirut.
Even as they counted their dead and cleared streets of debris, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence.
Lebanese authorities said the massive explosion was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut’s port.
But many questions have been raised as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured for years.
Macron said a French military aircraft carrier was hours away from landing in Beirut with “rescue teams and investigators to take the search and the probe forward”.
Lebanon’s foreign minister had announced on French radio Thursday that an investigating committee had been given four days to determine responsibility for Tuesday’s devastating explosion.
Yet most of the members of this committee are high-ranking officials who command little trust from the people and many relatives of the blast’s victims have been calling for foreign investigators.
The cataclysmic explosion, which left an estimated 300,000 people temporarily homeless and injured around 5,000 people, struck when Lebanon was already battling rampant inflation and rising poverty.
The International Monetary Fund has offered help but Lebanon’s political leaders have balked at the measures the monetary institution is requesting for a rescue package to be approved.
To help ease the crisis, an international aid conference for Lebanon would be held “in the coming days,” Macron said.
He stressed that the aid raised during the conference would be chanelled “directly to the people, the relief organisations and the teams that need it on the ground”.
The French president took a tough tone on the reforms he said were the only thing holding back a massive aid package that could put the ailing country back in the saddle.
Speaking of Lebanon’s political leaders, Macron said: “Their responsibility is huge, that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change.”
Tempers flared as the deadlocked EU coronavirus summit rolled over from Sunday into Monday, with French President Emmanuel Macron upbraiding his Dutch and Austrian colleagues and threatening a walk-out.
Frustration had been building for three days as the 27 leaders wrangled over the size and form of an up to 750-billion-euro ($860-billion) package of loans and grants to lift virus-ravaged countries out of recession.
An alliance of so-called “frugals”, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, has been resisting calls for the bulk of the funds to be doled out as non-repayable grants.
Macron, according to witnesses, bashed the table, attacked Kurz for leaving the room to make a call, and accused Rutte of behaving like former British premier David Cameron — whose strategy “ended badly”.
Cameron often took a hard line at EU summits seeking concessions for Britain, but ended up losing a Brexit referendum — and his job.
According to a European source Kurz was offended by Macron’s behaviour.
A member of the French delegation told AFP that some of the accounts of what had happened has been “a little caricatured” but confirmed that Macron had “taken a hard line on their inconsistencies”.
According to officials, Macron had denounced the two leaders for their insistence that the recovery funds take the form of loans with strict conditions attached, rather than as grants — and had said he would rather walk away than make a bad deal.
France wants at least 400 billion euros to be available as grants, but the Frugals want to cut that back substantially.
French President Emmanuel Macron has replaced the ministers of the interior and environment in a revamped government under new Prime Minister Jean Castex, the presidency said Monday.
Gerald Darmanin, until now budget minister, replaces Christophe Castaner as interior minister, a troubled portfolio owing to alleged racism and violence among police forces.
Barbara Pompili, a former member of France’s green party, is the new environment minister in place of Elisabeth Borne.
But Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Defence Minister Florence Parly and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire are all staying in their posts, top presidential aide Alexis Kohler told reporters at the Elysee Palace.
Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on Monday, just days before Germany takes on the rotating presidency of the European Union with an economy mired in the worst crisis since World War II.
Berlin’s chairing of the 27-member bloc will be its last with Merkel in charge, and could be the one that defines the legacy of the leader dubbed the “eternal chancellor”.
With the future of the bloc’s relationship with Britain still to be determined, a crucial shift to a lower carbon world in the balance and crises from Libya to Syria all jostling for attention, there is no shortage of burning issues to tackle.
But it is the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation it has wrought which will dominate and concentrate minds.
“This crisis that we’re currently experiencing is different compared to any other we have experienced since the founding of Europe,” Merkel, in power since 2005, told parliament in an address laying out Berlin’s priorities for the EU presidency.
“Alone in Europe, it has claimed more than 100,000 lives. A few weeks of economic standstill was enough to endanger what we have built up over years.”
With all to play for, member states are anxiously looking to Europe’s biggest economy to take charge.
In an interview published Saturday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said it was “very fortunate that Germany is taking over the presidency at this time of a major crisis.”
Merkel’s long experience and credibility “helps enormously,” she told the Handelsblatt newspaper.
– German ‘bulldozer’ –
Besides its geopolitical weight and economic heft, Germany takes on custodianship of the bloc with a strong hand as it has so far withstood the health emergency better than most other member states.
Compared to the debt crisis that threatened to sink the single currency zone in 2009-2010, Germany looks very different today — it’s out with Scrooge and in with Lady Bountiful.
Once an obstinate champion of budgetary rigour, Merkel’s government has ditched its no-new-debt dogma to throw resources at the crisis.
Its programme to shore up the economy totals more than a trillion euros in spending, loans and guarantees.
Together with Macron, Merkel sketched out the backbone of the 750 million-euro ($840-million) fund proposed by von der Leyen to bolster the bloc’s economy.
The fund would offer grants — with no repayment obligation — to countries hardest hit by the pandemic, a major policy U-turn for Berlin.
With an eye on the devastating blow taken by the worst-hit countries like Spain or Italy, Merkel explained that it was “imperative that Germany not only thinks of itself but is prepared for an extraordinary act of solidarity”.
“In such a crisis, everyone is expected to do what is necessary. And what is necessary in this case is rather extraordinary,” she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
“Of course it’s good that things are moving forward finally. But it’s regrettable that without a jolt from crisis, this chancellor has usually lacked the drive to make changes,” complained weekly Der Spiegel of veteran firefighter Merkel — set to retire after elections late this year.
The recovery fund is likely to be among the key points raised when Merkel and Macron meet at German government retreat Meseberg on Monday.
Despite opposition from fiscal hardliners such as Austria and the Netherlaands, observers believe that the EU’s paymaster Berlin will ram through an accord.
“When the Germans are certain they are right, it’s very bulldozer, there is no margin for discussion,” a high-ranking EU official said.
– ‘Swan song’ –
An EU diplomat agreed, saying: “On the recovery fund, I expect Germany to dictate the whole process. Merkel is holding all the cards and (EU Council chief) Charles Michel will follow that.
“She also wants to get Brexit out of the way and she will always go for the deal as she wants to keep the West together. The third leg will be restoring ties with US after the election there.”
Merkel, who has ruled out running for a fifth term next year, won’t have much time.
Brexit talks will have to be done by the end of the year, while in November, the focus will be on whether US President Donald Trump, whose relationship with Merkel has been frosty at best, manages to hold on to his job.
What is clear is that Merkel’s fingerprints will be all over the EU’s roadmap through the next six months.
“This will be a very Merkel presidency, her swan song,” said the EU diplomat, adding that she would be using it “to craft her legacy”.
French people went to the polls wearing face masks Sunday for the final round of municipal elections expected to yield a low voter turnout and a rebuke for the party of President Emmanuel Macron.
The opening round was held amid high contagion anxiety on March 15 just as the COVID-19 epidemic was gaining deadly momentum, but the second phase, scheduled for March 22, was put off after France went into lockdown.
Despite a record abstention rate of 55 percent, the first round yielded a decisive outcome in some 85 percent, or 30,000, French communes.
This means political power remains up for grabs Sunday in about 5,000 undecided municipal councils including the key centres of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.
Some 16.5 million people are registered to cast a ballot, with those turning out required to wear a face mask and urged to bring their own pens to minimise coronavirus contagion risk.
Analysts expect the election will confirm that Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party — founded by the president ahead of his 2017 election win — has failed to gain a strong foothold at local level.
The party made lacklustre showings in March — notably in Paris where Macron’s candidate, former health minister Agnes Buzyn, came third.
Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is forecast to hold on to the capital in Sunday’s vote.
With a death toll approaching 30,000, France has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The country went into lockdown on March 17 — two days after the first election round.
Most restrictions have now been eased, but there is widespread anger at the government over shortages of protective equipment, including face masks, in the early stages of the pandemic.
– Cabinet reshuffle? –
During the outbreak, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe — an unshowy technocratic — saw his popularity rise to a level higher than that of Macron, who critics say is a president of the rich, out of touch with ordinary people
Paris is buzzing with speculation that a poor showing by the LREM Sunday could see Macron announce a major cabinet reshuffle, possibly axing Philippe, who campaigned to be mayor of the Normandy port city of Le Havre.
Holding two executive posts is allowed under French law.
“Although Macron has done a pretty good job of managing COVID-19, he has not been rewarded by his public,” said Mujtaba Rahman, Europe managing director for the Eurasia Group risk consultancy.
“A new prime minister, probably further to the left, would allow Macron to claim he is delivering on his promise to ensure the ‘second act’ of his presidency takes note of failings revealed by his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.”
With 22 months to go to the next presidential election, “Macron is also tempted to make the change because of Philippe’s soaring popularity,” Rahman said.
Macron’s main challenger at a national level is far-right leader Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN).
A poll by Harris Interactive Epoka on Friday showed that 44 percent of respondents had a favourable opinion of Macron but 51 percent were positive on Philippe, a jump of 13 points for the premier in a few months.
“There will not be any significant conquests for LREM,” said Emmanuel Riviere, a pollster with the Kantar Centre on the Future of Europe.
“This will deprive the ruling party of a territorial anchor that it could have depended on in future elections,” he said.
Despite an abysmal performance in the last presidential elections, France’s Socialists are expected to keep key regional centres, including Paris, where three women are vying for the top job.
– No vote in Guiana –
There will also be close attention on the green Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) party, which has its eye on the Alpine hub of Grenoble as well as Strasbourg and Lyon.
In Marseille, leftist Michele Rubirola hopes to cause a sensation by taking France’s second city from the right after a quarter of a century of control.
For Le Pen’s RN, the big prize would be the southeastern city of Perpignan, which could become the stage for the first far-right takeover of a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since Toulon in 1995.
The only region of France where the vote is not taking place is the overseas territory of Guiana in South America, where the pandemic is still deemed too active to proceed with the vote.
The London statue of British wartime leader Winston Churchill that was controversially boxed up after anti-racism protests will be uncovered for a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, the mayor’s office said Wednesday.
“The covering around the Winston Churchill statue will be removed for the visit of President Macron to London,” said a spokesman for mayor Sadiq Khan.
Other monuments to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, and the Cenotaph war memorial were covered up in the wake of protests at the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in the United States.
The protection was put in place before a counter-demonstration last weekend, which saw far-right protesters fight running battles with the police.
Churchill’s statue became a target when it was daubed with graffiti branding him a racist because of his policies at the time of a 1943 famine in the Indian state of Bengal that left millions dead.
The Cenotaph was also targeted.
The boards around the Cenotaph were taken down on Monday but the coverings around the statues of Mandela and Gandhi will stay in place “under review”, said Khan’s office.
Macron’s visit coincides with the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to the French people, calling on them to resist the German World War II occupation of France.
A statue of the wartime French resistance leader was also recently targeted in the northern French town of Hautmont.
The defacing of Churchill’s statue and subsequent covering up sparked outrage in Britain, particularly from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has written a biography of his predecessor.
Johnson has said he “will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better.”
He told parliament on Wednesday that “we are looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorials”.
Reports have suggested long prison terms for the worst offenders.
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Britain on Thursday to mark 80 years since exiled wartime resistance leader Charles de Gaulle called on France not to give in to the Nazis.
Macron will look to underline the enduring importance of Anglo-French relations even after Brexit by looking back to de Gaulle’s dramatic appeal on June 18, 1940, made from BBC studios in London shortly after his evacuation from a defeated France.
But Macron, who is due to hold talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as meeting Prince Charles, will be unable to escape the shadow of Brexit as talks on the terms of Britain’s exit enter a tricky phase.
The trip will be Macron’s first outside France since the coronavirus crisis erupted in earnest. The French leader has been criticised in some quarters for his bellicose rhetoric on the virus, declaring that France was “at war” with COVID-19.
The situation has improved sufficiently for Macron to say that France could claim its “first victory”.
But the challenges remain unparalleled since World War II, with Macron along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel spearheading a 500 billion euro ($566 billion) rescue plan for Europe.
– Spared quarantine –
Macron, who displays de Gaulle’s war memoirs on his desk in his official photograph, is making much of 2020 as an anniversary year for the French resistance leader who would later become president of post-occupation France.
In May, he paid tribute to de Gaulle at the site of the 1940 Battle of Montcornet, one of few effective counter-attacks by French soldiers against the Nazis and where de Gaulle made his name as a military commander.
On November 9, Macron is to mark the 50th anniversary of the general’s death by visiting his final resting place in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in eastern France.
Before heading to Britain, Macron will take part in the traditional annual ceremony at Mont Valerien outside Paris, a memorial for the French who fought against the Nazis and those who were killed by the occupying forces.
He will then travel to London, where his status as a visiting foreign dignitary will spare him the controversial two-week virus quarantine now demanded by the British authorities of all visitors from abroad, a move that has irritated Paris.
He will award the Legion of Honour to London, making it the seventh city to be decorated with France’s highest order of merit, after Algiers, Belgrade, Brazzaville, Liege, Luxembourg and Volgograd.
Britain, which left the EU in January, is negotiating a trade deal to govern relations after December 31, when it stops abiding by EU rules. Macron has on occasion expressed impatience with the drawn-out Brexit process.
– ‘Legendary hero’ –
In his radio broadcast from London, de Gaulle urged all those who could to carry on fighting for France, words that laid the foundation of the resistance movement and helped keep alive hope that France would be liberated, as it finally was in 1944.
“Has the last word been said? Should hope disappear? Is the defeat final? No! Believe me, I… tell you that nothing is lost for France,” he said.
De Gaulle’s iconic stature and his defiant wartime spirit are being tapped into even more during the unprecedented challenges posed by the epidemic.
In a telling reflection of his status, the vandalisation of a bust of the general in northern France this week was met with a torrent of outrage. The statue in Hautmont was daubed in orange paint and with the slogan “slaver”.
“De Gaulle was neither on the left nor on the right… He was above the parties,” said French historian Michel Winock, author of a book on de Gaulle.
But he was also simply “a legendary hero, the man of June 18, the defiant fighter who embodies an epic, glorious France, an incorruptible man who never mixed up public money and his own account”, Winock said.
France, Germany and four other EU countries on Tuesday urged the European Union to take a greater role in preparing for any future pandemic, conceding that coronavirus responses had fallen short.
There should be a “common European approach” to such challenges in future, wrote France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel along with the leaders of Spain, Poland, Belgium and Denmark.
They addressed their letter and policy paper to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, in the strongest attempt yet by the bloc’s most powerful leaders to spur the EU executive to fix the disunity displayed during the crisis, especially in its earliest days.
As the global outbreak first took hold, member states privileged national responses by shutting borders, hoarding medical supplies and waving through major spending plans regardless of EU rules.