Elisabeth Borne, 61, appointed head of the French government on Monday, is a technician reputed to be tenacious and loyal to President Emmanuel Macron, who has held several ministerial positions.
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She is only the second woman to become Prime Minister of France, after Edith Cresson in the early 90s.
Born April 18, 1961 in Paris, a graduate of the prestigious Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and Polytechnique, this senior civil servant defines herself as "a woman on the left" with "social justice and equal opportunities" at the heart of her fights.
This trained engineer successively held key government positions in Transport, Ecology and Labor during Emmanuel Macron's first five-year term.
She is part of the left wing of the president, an asset at a time when new social reforms are announced, starting with "the mother of the battles" on the postponement of the retirement age.
Appointed Minister of Labor in July 2020, in the midst of a health crisis linked to Covid-19, she notably had to manage several sensitive reforms, including the highly contested issue of unemployment insurance reform, unanimously denounced by the unions. This reform came into full effect in December, after having been suspended for a time.
Also to its credit, the “one young person, one solution” plan presented in July 2020, which mobilized a range of employment measures, including massive learning aid, to avoid a “sacrificed generation”.
This sexagenarian always dressed to the nines, who vapotes including discreetly in the hemicycle of the parliament, is reputed to know her files well.
“It's a great techno,” comments a union official on condition of anonymity. “If we say to ourselves that there is a need for empathy, for once, you are starting from afar”, he adds however.
Ms. Borne has been very present in the media to defend the action of the government, in particular the “anti-dismissal shield” of partial unemployment in the face of the crisis, or to beat the recall on teleworking in the face of Covid-19.
She herself spent several days in the hospital in March 2021 after contracting the virus, later confiding that she had had an “agonizing” experience and had been “punctually administered oxygen”.
The math bump
Before becoming Minister of Labor, Ms. Borne had managed the Transport portfolio where she led a delicate reform of the SNCF railways, then that of Ecology in 2019, replacing the Minister at the time forced to resign at the series of revelations concerning his lavish lifestyle.
Elisabeth Borne also made a stint in 2014 as chief of staff to the Minister of the Environment at the time, the socialist Ségolène Royal, former presidential candidate.
In 2015, Ms. Borne was appointed president of RATP, a large public transport company managing the metro in Paris.
In a career essentially devoted to public service, Ms. Borne also spent time in the private sector, in charge of concessions for the Eiffage group in 2007, before joining the Paris City Hall as director of urban planning.
Very discreet about her private life, having lost her father "very young" with a mother who "didn't really have an income", she confided that she found in math "something quite reassuring, quite rational" .