France's Macron to publish 'charter' on his wife's role and responsibilities

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (Bloomberg) - After retreating on a plan to present a special law on the role of President Emmanuel Macron's wife, the president's office will instead publish a "charter" laying out her tasks.

This is a first in France, where presidential partners have never had defined responsibilities.

"My status will be determined, not by a law, but by a charter of transparency which will explain that I'm not remunerated, and what are my missions and my means," Mrs Brigitte Macron said in an interview in Lagardere SCA's "Elle" magazine to be published on Friday (Aug 18). "What is important, is that everything be clear."

While wives and partners of French presidents have had their own office and staff, there's never been an official status. After the idea of a law laying out Brigitte's status was floated, an online referendum against it gathered 300,000 signatures.

In the interview, extracts of which were published on Elle's website, Mrs Brigitte Macron said she's uncomfortable with the American expression "first lady", or "premiere dame", which the French press has adopted.

"Every time I hear it, I feel like looking over my shoulder and asking whom they are talking about," she said.

Mr Macron's predecessor, Mr Francois Hollande, broke up with one partner and took up with another while in office. The first one accompanied Mr Hollande on official visits while the second one was rarely seen in public with him. His predecessor Mr Nicolas Sarkozy divorced and remarried while president.

Brigitte, 64, and Mr Emmanuel Macron, 39, are on holiday in Marseilles this week.