French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a defence of European democracy, telling MEPs in Strasbourg that Europe is in a kind of "civil war" where nationalism and negativism seems to be taking over.

In an address to the European Parliament he said there was a new fascination on the illiberal and authoritarianism, and he called for a renewed defence of European ideals.

Mr Macron said the EU’s model of social democracy was neither "dated nor abstract."

He called for a proper debate before the European elections next year.

"If we decide to give up on democracy we will be on the wrong track. We must build a new EU sovereignty," he said.

Mr Macron said he did not want to belong to "a generation of sleepwalkers who have forgotten their own past."

"I want to belong to a generation that will defend European sovereignty because we fought to obtain it, because it has a meaning.

"I will not give in to any type of fixation on authoritarian," he added.

In comments which may cause concern for the Irish Government, Mr Macron said he supports taxing the profits of digital firms operating in the EU.

He said such a tax would "put an end to the excesses" of the past.

"I support such a proposal, this will pave the way for further budget resources," he added.

Ireland is opposed to the introduction of a digital tax which has the potential to hit exchequer revenues.

Mr Macron told MEPs that France was willing to increase its contribution to the European budget, but that budget must be "completely recast" and funds must be diverted towards defence and migration policies.

Addressing the weekend airstrikes in Syria, Mr Macron said France and its allies "haven’t declared war on anyone."

He said the UN, because of the way it was organised, was unable to act against chemical weapons.

Mr Macron was criticised by a number of MEPs for his country’s involvement in the airstrikes in Syria.

Responding to the criticism, Mr Macron called on those who were shocked by the images of children and women suffering from a gas attack at the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had to stand up and defend their rights.

He said France would not cave in to cynicism and would continue to fight against international terrorism.

"We are at war with terrorists, Bashar al-Assad is at war with this own people," he said.