European Parliament President David Sassoli of Italy dies aged 65

DEATH – Italian David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament since 2019, died overnight from Monday to Tuesday at the age of 65, his spokesperson announced. The chosen one had been hospitalized in Italy since December 26 for pneumonia, his official activities had been canceled.

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli died, at the age of 65, on the night of Monday to Tuesday at the CRO (oncology reference center) in Aviano, Italy, where he had been hospitalized since the end of December, announced its spokesperson Roberto Cuillo on Twitter.

Journalist, then Member of the European Parliament

Former star presenter of RAI, the public radio and television channel in Italy, before turning to politics, he had been at the head of the Strasbourg assembly since 2019. After several years as an MEP, the Social Democrat had been able to take the presidency thanks to negotiations between the major European political forces for the main positions of responsibility in the EU. The Commission had gone to the EPP (pro-European right) with Ursula von der Leyen, the Council to the Liberals with Charles Michel and the Parliament to the Socialists with David Sassoli.

But his mandate, which was due to end this month, was quickly undermined by the health crisis, forcing the European Parliament, the only elected European institution, to work remotely. As a sign of solidarity, the Italian had made an impression by making the deserted premises of the Parliament available, both in Strasbourg and in Brussels, for the preparation of meals for families in need and setting up a screening center for Covid- 19.

Always attracted by the press, David Sassoli said he did not have “completely abandoned (his) career as a journalist” and still collaborated with various dailies and magazines by writing forums.

“Immune System Dysfunction”

Recovered from leukemia at a younger age, his health was his Achilles’ heel. The European president had been hospitalized in a serious condition last September, due to pneumonia which had kept him away from Parliament for several weeks. Monday afternoon, he had again been hospitalized “due to a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system”, according to his spokesperson.

MEPs expressed their emotion shortly after the announcement of his death. “I am extremely sad. His work to modernize Parliament from the ground up was visionary, and I hope we can complete the tasks he set out to do” to reform the institution, reacted Danish MEP Karen Melchior (Renew, Liberals).

“I am heartbroken. Europe has lost a leader, I have lost a friend, democracy has lost a champion,” said Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who is expected to succeed him.

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Discreet, but firm in his holding of the debates in the hemicycle both in Strasbourg and in Brussels, David Sassoli had received the “unanimous support” of his political group in November to run for a second term. But he had not then officially declared himself a candidate, and his state of health left uncertainty over this candidacy.

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