Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

French environment minister resigns, citing lack of policy progress

European security must no longer depend on US, France's Macron says French president announces new push for EU defense
Andrew Wong | 30 August, 2018, 22:42

Clearly emotional, Hulot made clear his frustrations at what he said was France's slow pace of progress on green issues. Mr Hulot, 62, has been described as the French equivalent of Sir David Attenborough.

Hulot was formerly the presenter of the hit Ushuaia environmental TV programme in France and had repeatedly turned down offers to enter government by previous French presidents.

Mr Hulot said he felt "all alone" in government.

Macron's vision included a more united front on at least half a dozen security topics and comes after U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated demands for Europe to become more self-sufficient in its defense. Those include the government's recent moves toward relaxing hunting regulations, as well as its apparent reluctance to fulfill a pledge to slash the share of nuclear power in France's electricity supply to 50 percent by 2025.

"I think it is unusual if we put Denmark in a position where we participate in the tough actions in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or through different alliances and then when we should invest in stabilization and rebuilding countries, Denmark has to withdraw", he said. "I have therefore chose to leave the government".

At the diplomatic level, Macron is struggling to convince his European partners of the need for a more integrated EU as nationalist governments make gains across the continent.

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"I hope that my act is not an act of resignation but one of mobilisation", he said. He urged patience, saying: "It's a fight that isn't won from one day to the next".

"I am not calling for a referendum but for a debate, and it shouldn't just be black or white", Loekke Rasmussen said. "The planet is becoming an oven, our natural resources are being exhausted, biodiversity is melting like snow in the sun and it's not always dealt with like a priority issue".

Nevertheless, the centrist French president's political rivals wasted little time seizing on Hulot's surprise resignation as a "vote of censure against Macron". "We're taking little steps, and France is doing a lot more than other countries, but are little steps enough?.The answer is no".

"I will have the opportunity, in the coming days, to make proposals to the President of the Republic. regarding the composition of the government", he told reporters ahead of his speech at the Ambassadors' conference in Paris. Europe is not doing enough. Macron is on a two-day visit, hoping to build the relationships he needs to push France's agenda of a more closely united European Union.

A decision by Government to relax hunting legislation in a "victory for lobbyists" is understood to have been the last straw for the minister. Since a post-election honeymoon period, they have been accompanied by a sharp slide in Macron's ratings, which touched new lows after his bodyguard was filmed assaulting demonstrators last month.

Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted that "Macronism is starting to decompose".

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