She was one of the supporters of the left wing of the Castex government. The former director of cabinet of Ségolène Royal, when she was Minister of Ecology, becomes, this Monday, May 16, Prime Minister, thirty years after Edith Cresson, the only woman to have reached such a responsibility between 1991 and 1992.
Emmanuel Macron saw in this technician an essential asset at a time when new social reforms are announced, starting with “the mother of battles” on pensions. Engineer, born April 18, 1961 in Paris, graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and Polytechnique, senior civil servant, her task will be to carry the new ecological ambition promised by the President, on the evening of his re-election. A mission that she should not dismiss since she was Minister of Ecology, in the Philippe government, during the first five-year term of Emmanuel Macron. Faithful among the faithful, passage in the private sector, “super techno” … The five things to remember about the new Prime Minister.
Elisabeth Borne has the full profile of a technician. This sexagenarian always dressed to the nines, often an electronic cigarette in hand – including discreetly in the hemicycle of the assemblies -, is reputed to know her files well. “It’s a great techno”, recently commented a union official, who did not see it at Matignon.
Very discreet about her private life, she had a childhood marked by the death of her father, a former deportee, when she was only 11 years old. With a mother who “didn’t really have an income”, she was a pupil of the Nation, confident that she had found in math “something quite reassuring, quite rational”. A scientific spirit at the origin of her reputation as an excellent technician. She began her professional life in socialist cabinets in the 1990s.
After a stint at the Ministries of Education and Culture, Elisabeth Borne joined the private sector in 2007, in charge of concessions for the Eiffage group, before returning to public administration. She joined the City of Paris as director of urban planning. Elisabeth Borne then became, in 2014, chief of staff of the Minister of the Environment Ségolène Royal. The previous year, in 2013, she had been appointed prefect of the Poitou-Charentes region, a valuable function for Emmanuel Macron who was initially looking for a profile with experience as a local elected official. It missed.
Elisabeth Borne is the fourth head of government under the Fifth Republic to have never sought a mandate by universal suffrage, after Georges Pompidou, Raymond Barre and Dominique de Villepin. She will compete in the legislative elections in Calvados in June, a candidacy confirmed by her entourage after her appointment to Matignon, to fight against criticism of her lack of local roots.
She joined Emmanuel Macron in 2017, after an experience as president of RATP, a large public transport company, a few years after having been director of strategy for SNCF, in the early 2000s. She first managed the transport portfolio in the governments of Edouard Philippe. She leads the reform of the SNCF, her former employer, which will earn her the praise of her camp and the strong criticism of her former political family, the left.
Whatever, Elisabeth Borne is now faithful to the walkers. In July 2019, she replaced François de Rugy as Minister of Ecological and Inclusive Transition. In the midst of a health crisis linked to Covid-19, she was propelled to the strategic Ministry of Labor in July 2020. On her desk, the files of the unemployment insurance reform, unanimously denounced by the unions, which will not go to the end and the employability of young people massively affected by the social crisis linked to the pandemic. 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”. Despite several other hypotheses for the post, from Catherine Vautrin to Marisol Touraine, it is this faithful “loyal, honest, hardworking and rather funny when you know her”, according to an elected official – that the head of state has chosen.
“If we say to ourselves that there is a need for empathy, for once, you are starting from afar”, mocks a union official who rubbed shoulders with him in the corridors of the Ministry of Labor. Offices in which, we recall the supposed harshness that she could reveal towards her collaborators. She was even nicknamed “Borne out”, in reference to burn out, a syndrome of exhaustion.
“More political” than her predecessor Muriel Pénicaud, as observed by a witness, she maintains cordial relations with the social partners. A skill that must have gone in the direction of the new Prime Minister when choosing while the thorny pension reform is on the agenda. She also has a sense of political communication. Elisabeth Borne had multiplied in recent months the interventions 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. A Covid crisis that she faced intimately. After contracting the virus, she had to spend several days in the hospital confident afterwards to have had an “agonizing” experience and to have been “punctually administered oxygen”.