A giant European Union flag was placed to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Friday to commemorate the start of France’s six-month presidency of the bloc was removed on Sunday after an uproar from far-right and right-wing leaders.
Clement Beaune, the junior European Affairs Minister, said the flag had been taken down as planned after being left up for “a few days” on Friday.
Beaune further said, “the flag was supposed to be brought down this Sunday, but we hadn’t set a certain time.”
After far-right leader Marine Le Pen indicated on Saturday that she would appeal to France’s Council of State to have the EU flag removed, Beaune refuted the notion that the government had caved in.
Meanwhile, Le Pen said on Sunday, “the government has been forced to remove the EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe, a wonderful patriotic triumph at the start of 2022.”
“We didn’t back down, and we didn’t change our minds… I am convinced that France’s future lies in Europe,” Beaune remarked.
He claimed that Le Pen and other leaders were mistaken when they claimed that the EU flag had taken the place of the French flag because the latter is not permanently flown on the Arc de Triomphe.
Emmanuel Macron, who has yet to announce whether or not he will seek for re-election in April, defeated Le Pen in a 2017 run-off by a margin of 66% to 34%.
Most polls predict a rematch between the two in the upcoming presidential elections, with Macron expected to win again, but by a smaller margin.