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.
Populists dominated recent elections in states like Hungary and Italy, fuelled by the continuing EU migrant crisis.
Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban returned to power with a landslide victory earlier this month while Eurosceptic parties caused a political earthquake in Italy in March.
Mr Macron and his liberal La République en Marche (LREM) party triumphed in France’s elections last year with a strongly pro-EU platform.
However, the French polls saw record numbers of voters staying away, with turnout of less than 50% at both rounds of the parliamentary election.