Politics & Economics

Cabinet reshuffle in France alters Renew Europe’s election plans

January 2024
By Eleonore Para

With President Macron appointing Gabriel Attal as the new Prime Minister, a fresh government has officially taken office in France and there’s some movements with the EU elections in sight. One of the key appointments with immediate implications for Europe is that of Stéphane Séjourné, now serving as the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

At 38, Séjourné was previously an advisor to Emmanuel Macron, starting in 2014 during Macron’s tenure as Minister of the Economy. Later, Macron appointed him as a political advisor when he assumed the presidency in 2017.

Séjourné, a Member of the European Parliament since 2019, currently holds the positions of Secretary General of Renaissance and President of the French-driven centrist group Renew Europe in the European Parliament. He took over from Romanian Dacian Cioloș in 2021. In the lead-up to the 2024 European elections, Séjourné had expressed a desire to lead the campaign, although the appointment was not official. Now, he takes over from Catherine Colonna at the Quai d’Orsay.

Séjourné’s appointment has two immediate political implications in Brussels. Firstly, the leadership of the Renew group temporarily transitions to the first Vice-President, Dutchman Malik Azmani, at a crucial moment for closing numerous legislative matters and potential reform of the Parliament’s structure.

Secondly, and perhaps more crucially in light of the European elections, Macron is likely to lose his party’s leader in France. Just a few days ago, Séjourné’s as leader was already speaking as a candidate, firmly rejecting the prospect of Renew collaborating with nationalists in the event of a right-wing majority emerging from the polls in June.

Names currently linked with leading Renaissance’s list include former Transport and EU Minister Clément Beaune and, notably, former Health Minister and French Government Spokesman Olivier Véran.