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France removes EU flag at Arc de Triomphe after sparking criticism

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By Euronews
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The European flag flies under the Arc de Triomphe to mark France's EU presidency in Paris, France, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.
The European flag flies under the Arc de Triomphe to mark France's EU presidency in Paris, France, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thibault Camus

The European flag at Paris' famous Arc de Triomphe monument was taken down over the weekend after its placement sparked criticism among right-wing politicians.

French officials said the European flag was removed in accordance with its planned installation, while right-wing politicians called it a victory of their own.

Far-right politicians had alleged that the French flag had been removed and replaced with the European one, which French government officials denied.

"No French flag was removed at the Arc de Triomphe, it was not replaced by the European flag," French European affairs minister Clément Beaune said, adding it was a "bold move" for Europe.

"The European flag was installed where there was nothing," Beaune explained.

The symbol was meant to mark France's taking up of the EU Council presidency over the next six months.

Beaune denied that the government's fast removal of the EU flag a day after its installation was "a reversal of their policy".

Several French presidential candidates have started their campaigns ahead of the April 2022 election.

Valérie Pécresse, the right-wing presidential candidate, said president Emmanuel Macron had a problem with French history, while far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hailed a "patriotic victory".

Left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, meanwhile, said that the government should respect the protocol to always have the EU flag with the French one, denouncing the move as a "communicative whim".

While the candidate is the best placed on the left in the polls, he has refused to join negotiations to achieve a single candidacy.