The French National Assembly this week voted to make it mandatory to fly the EU flag on town halls in France, in a move that has riled Euroskeptics at home.
The bill, which was tabled by President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, was approved in a tight vote in parliament, with 130 lawmakers voting in favor and 109 against.
In France, the star-spangled European flag is often seen flying alongside the French tricolor in many ministries, town halls and public buildings, but it has been voluntary and left to the discretion of local officials. Wednesday’s decision will make it compulsory to fly the flag for towns and cities with a population of over 1,500.
Parliamentary debates ahead of the vote were acrimonious with MPs belonging to Marine Le Pen’s far-right party National Rally accusing the government of trampling on French identity.
“Macron’s MPs are showing their scorn for the French people … There are only three colors that the French bow to in their schools, in ceremonies, when they honor their dead, it’s white, blue and red,” said Jean-Philippe Tanguy, a National Rally MP.
The move also provoked some consternation within the left-wing NUPES coalition which is divided on European policies — with a more Euroskeptic far-left pitted against the bill, and a pro-European Green party in favor of it.
Ecologist MEP Yannick Jadot clashed with the France Unbowed MEP Manon Aubry on Twitter over whether flying the EU flag was a “democratic forfeiture.”
The bill must now pass a vote in the French Senate before becoming law.