French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that “there seems to be a European civil war” between liberal democracy and rising authoritarianism.
He urged the EU to renew its commitment to democracy, in a passionate speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“I don’t want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers that has forgotten its own past”, he said, recalling how the EU arose after World War Two.
He is launching debates with voters, aimed at re-engaging them with the EU.
In his speech he condemned what he called “a fascination with the illiberal” in Europe.
Last year Mr Macron and his new liberal party, La République en Marche (LREM), triumphed in French elections with a strongly pro-EU platform.
His second-round rival in the presidential election was National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, a nationalist and fierce critic of the EU.