EU flag taken down after backlash in France
Conservative rivals of French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU flag underneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was an attack on “French identity,” and was taken down soon after the wave of outrage.
President Emmanuel Macron’s office told French media that the blue flag with 12 golden stars was removed on Sunday “in accordance with the planned schedule.”
Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune also denied that the removal was related to the backlash from conservatives. “I’m proud that this symbol was displayed under the Arc de Triomphe,” he said.
The European flag was placed under the monument on New Year’ Eve to mark the beginning of France’s six-month presidency in the Council of the European Union, one of the bloc’s decision-making bodies. France has assumed the role for the first time since 2008. Government buildings and cultural landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre, were illuminated in blue for the occasion.
Several right-wing politicians, including Macron’s rivals in the upcoming presidential election scheduled for April, said it was disrespectful to place the EU flag instead of the French tricolor on the Arc de Triomphe, a war memorial adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Valerie Pecresse, a presidential candidate from the Republicans party, protested against the “erasure of the French identity” and urged that the EU flag be removed. Marine Le Pen, also a candidate and former leader of the National Rally party, accused Macron of “arrogant contempt for our history.”
After the flag was taken down, Le Pen tweeted that the removal of the EU flag was a “beautiful patriotic victory at the dawn of 2022,” thanking the “massive mobilization of all those who love France and the Republic.”