Ursula Von Der Leyen praises France for displaying EU flags
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Europe remains a subject that deeply divides the French. While the country took the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) at the beginning of January, an Elabe poll for “Les Echos”, Classic Radio and the Montaigne Institute revealed a real divide in public opinion on the advantages or disadvantages of this membership.
Asked about the advantages of belonging to the EU, the respondents were divided into three camps: 39 percent French believe that Europe brings as many advantages as disadvantages;
33 percent say that the disadvantages are more important and only 27 percent on the contrary think that the advantages are greater than the disadvantages.
The poll results sparked calls for a referendum on the country’s membership to the EU.
Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois blasted: “Only 27 percent of French people think that the advantages of the EU outweigh its disadvantages!
“The least of things would be that the candidates for the Presidential election propose a referendum on our membership of the EU!”
The poll comes in the wake of France taking over the rolling presidency of the EU council with President Macron under pressure to deliver and defend his European credentials.
Earlier this week French authorities felt obliged to remove a temporary installation of the EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, after rightwing opponents of Macron accused him of “erasing” French identity.
The move was branded a huge “scandal” by Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois who argued the flag should have been France’s in honour of the symbolism of the Arc De Triomphe’s tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Gallois said: “It’s a massive scandal because the flag was under the Arc de Triomphe but that is also a soldier’s grave.
“So it was very symbolic as that soldier died for France not for the European Union.
“French soldiers fought against imperialism and Germany and the EU is also a German symbol.
“This is a big, big scandal for France.”
Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who originally had said the flag would remain for “several days”, said it had been taken down as planned.
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Mr Beaune told France Inter radio: “It was scheduled that the flag was to be taken down this Sunday, we hadn’t established an exact time.”
He dismissed the idea that the government had given in after far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Saturday said she would appeal to France’s Council of State to remove the EU flag.
Ms Le Pen said on Sunday: “The government has been forced to remove the EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe, a beautiful patriotic victory at the start of 2022.”
But Mr Beaune said: “We didn’t back down, there was no change of plan …I fully assume France’s destiny is in Europe.”
He added Ms Le Pen and other leaders had got it all wrong when they said the EU flag had supplanted the French flag as the latter is not permanently displayed on the Arc de Triomphe.
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