The European Union (EU) flag, which was hoisted under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Friday to mark the start of France’s six-month presidency, was removed following outrage on Sunday by far-right and right-wing forces, Reuters reported.
Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Bonnet, who announced on Friday that the flag would remain “for a few days”, said it had been removed as planned.
“It was planned that the flag would be taken down this Sunday, we did not specify the exact time,” Bonn said in an interview with France Inter radio.
At the same time, Bonnet denies that the government gave in after the leader of the ultra-right, Marine Le Pen, announced on Saturday that he would apply to the State Council of France to remove the EU flag.
“The government had to remove the EU flag from under the Arc de Triomphe, a wonderful patriotic victory in early 2022,” Le Pen said on Sunday.
“We have not retreated, the plan has not changed. I fully agree that the fate of France lies in Europe,” Bonnet said.
He noted that Le Pen and other leaders made a mistake when they announced that the EU flag had replaced the French flag, as the latter does not always depend on the Arc de Triomphe.
French President Emanuel Macron, who has not yet announced whether he will run in April, defeated Le Pen in the second round of the 2017 elections with 66% of the vote.
Most polls suggest Macron will win again, albeit by a smaller margin.