Macron suggested France was nothing before EU: We are one of these stars!

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The French President is embroiled in a bitter battle with the EU over the decision to include the French military under labour laws which normally apply to civilians. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently condemned Paris for insisting that military personnel should not be included in the country’s 35-hour working week. It disagreed and ruled the same labour laws apply to soldiers as any other workers providing they are not on active operations.

This has provoked outrage from Mr Macron’s government – who insist that military personnel should remain exempt to honour their commitment to be available “at all times and in all places”.

It is one of the few times France finds itself at loggerheads with the bloc.

Mr Macron himself was elected on a staunchly pro-EU platform.

During the last presidential race, Mr Macron even insinuated France was “nothing” before joining the EU.

During a rally in Nantes in 2017, he raised the EU flag before telling the crowd that it was “an honour” to fly the emblem.

The former investment banker attacked the National Rally leader Marine Le Pen for refusing to be interviewed with the EU flag in the background.

As he lifted up the flag, Mr Macron told his cheering supporters: “We are one of these stars.

“Never forget, because so many died for that.

“I know what France was before this flag.

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“It was a valley of tears.”

Mr Macron claimed that before the European Union was established, the continent was ravaged by war.

It came after his far-right rival Ms Le Pen refused to be interviewed next to the European emblem.

She refused to appear on France’s TF1 television channel unless the EU’s yellow-starred blue flag was removed.

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The anti-EU leader told the journalists that she was campaigning to be the president of France, “not the European Commission”.

In response, the European Commission tweeted: “Proud of our flag, a symbol of unity, solidarity and harmony between the people of Europe. Let’s not hide it.”

Mr Macron and Ms Pen saw their respective parties stumble last month as incumbent conservatives surged ahead in the first round of regional elections marred by a record-low turnout.

France’s regional polls had been described as a dress rehearsal for next year’s presidential election – but by 8pm, the putative protagonists of the Elysée contest had witnessed their respective parties falter at the polls.

Ms Le Pen’s National Rally was hoping to lead in as many as six of mainland France’s 13 regions, putting it on course to win its first-ever region – or more – in the June 27 runoff.

However, the party topped just one contest, in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region, securing only a wafer-thin lead in a race it had hoped to run away with.

Meanwhile, President Macron saw his party suffer another humiliating defeat at the polls, a year after its dismal performance in municipal elections.

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