World Bulletin / News Desk
French President Emmanuel Macron will on Tuesday address the European Parliament for the first time in a bid to shore up support for his ambitious plans for post-Brexit reforms of the EU.
Macron's speech to MEPs in the eastern French city of Strasbourg is part of a charm offensive ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019, the first after Britain's departure.
"He will say that it is urgent to take action at a difficult time both inside the European Union, and outside," said the Elysee, the French presidency, ahead of Macron's address.
Internal problems include election results in Italy and Hungary which both saw eurosceptics surge in popularity, compounding fears that the 2016 Brexit vote was part of a pattern.
Externally the EU is dealing with the war in Syria -- France and Britain joined the US in air strikes targeting the regime's alleged chemical weapons at the weekend -- a hostile Russia, and the unpredictable figure of Donald Trump in the United States.
Macron said in a television interview on Sunday that Europe was experiencing a "rise in illiberalism... the populism of people who call the rule of law into question."
Later this week Macron will travel to Berlin for crucial talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try to win her support for his plans for the future of the eurozone.
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