During his speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron wanted to return to the controversy over the European flag flying under the Arc de Triomphe on January 1.
“To celebrate this semester of presidency of the Council of the European Union, we decided, on January 1, to fly the European flag under the Arc de Triomphe”, first recalled the Head of State.
The initiative had been extremely criticized, especially in the ranks of the right, which denounced the absence of the French flag.
However, the tricolor “never flies under the Arc de Triomphe on January 1”, underlined Emmanuel Macron. It is only installed for special ceremonies. The European flag has therefore not “replaced” that of France.
“One flag would have replaced the other, I concede” [qu’il y ait des critiques], he summarized during his speech. “But a flag that flies instead of nothing, I’m proud of it,” he said.
An initiative perceived by some as a “provocation”
The European flag was removed the next day, January 2. Although temporary, the government’s gesture had been described as an “outrage” by Eric Zemmour, an “erasure of French identity” by the Republican presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse, and a “provocation” by the leader of the Marine Le Pen National Gathering. The latter had also threatened to seize the Council of State.
France is President of the Council of the European Union until June 30, 2022. This means that she must plan and chair Council meetings, and represent the European Union in international relations. France has notably made the climate and an alliance with the African continent its priorities for this semester.