PARIS — Newly inducted French President Emmanuel Macron appointed Sylvie Goulard as defense minister on Wednesday, moving the present post holder, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to head the Foreign Ministry.
Goulard becomes the second woman to lead the Defence Ministry, seen as one of the top political appointments tied to national sovereignty. Goulard follows Michèle Alliot-Marie, who served as defense minister from 2002 to 2007.
Macron had pledged to appoint women to half the cabinet positions.
Goulard, a centrist member of the European Parliament since 2009, supports a strong federal Europe. The MEP was among the first politicians to support Macron when he set up his political movement En Marche, or On the Move. Besides French, Goulard speaks English, German and Italian, and she has written several books on building and sustaining the European Union, France Bleu radio reported.
Goulard previously worked as an adviser to Romano Prodi when Prodi served as president of the European Commission — the executive arm of the EU.
Le Drian, also a strong supporter of Macron, had been considered for the prime minister's post, French media reported.
Appointing Le Drian to the Foreign Ministry was a natural move after his five years at the Defence Ministry, where he was held in high esteem for his role as "super salesman" for selling French weapons to foreign governments, France Inter radio reported.
France hit in 2015 a record high of €16.9 billion (U.S. $18.8 billion) in foreign arms sales, with Le Drian playing a key role in forging strong ties with political leaders.