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Macron needs to move fast to reform France and keep credibility, says top EU commissioner

  • Katainen noted Macron's "bold" economic reform plans and his pro-EU agenda.
  • Macron, who was elected in May, saw the first political setback on Wednesday after the French military chief resigned over proposals to cut spending.
French President Emmanuel Macron walks through the Galerie des Bustes (Busts Gallery) to access the Versailles Palace's hemicycle for a special congress gathering both houses of parliament (National Assembly and Senate), near Paris, France, July 3, 2017.
Etienne Laurent | Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron walks through the Galerie des Bustes (Busts Gallery) to access the Versailles Palace's hemicycle for a special congress gathering both houses of parliament (National Assembly and Senate), near Paris, France, July 3, 2017.

France's brand new President Emmanuel Macron needs to move quickly to change the country, according to a top-ranking member of the European Commission.

The advice, from Jyrki Katainen the vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, comes as Macron suffered his first setback this week since taking office.

"As former prime minister of Finland I can only say that the faster you make all the reforms you plan to do, the better, because the rest of the election term is the time you're starting bearing fruit of all those reforms," Katainen told CNBC in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Katainen noted Macron's "bold" economic reform plans and his pro-EU agenda. He added: "We've already seen in many countries negative examples where leaders have not been bold enough to do reforms which they're planning to do early enough and then they start losing credibility and also the fruits of the reforms come later. Maybe if I could say something, move forward as quickly as possible."

Macron, who was elected in May, saw the first political setback on Wednesday after the French military chief resigned over proposals to cut spending. Pierre de Villiers said Wednesday he could no longer command the type of army that he thought to be necessary to protect France. The government wants to make cuts of about 850 million euros ($980 million) to reduce the country's deficit. Macron also wants to reform the rigid labor market that has held back the economy.