D.he news of the death of the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli was conveyed by his spokesman Roberto Cuillo in the middle of the night: Sassoli had died early Tuesday morning around 1:15 am in the oncology department of the Aviano clinic near Udine because of “serious complications due to a dysfunction of the immune system”. Sassoli, who was born in Florence on May 30, 1956, had been in the clinic since December 26th. All of his appointments had been canceled around Christmas time.
As early as September, Sassoli fell ill with severe pneumonia, which was apparently caused by a Legionella infection. A suspicion of Covid 19 disease was not confirmed at the time. The Italian social democrat was unable to perform his duties as President of the EU Parliament for a good two months.
In mid-December he announced that in January – after around half of the five-year legislative period had expired – he would not apply again for the office of President of Parliament, but would hand it over to a Conservative candidate in accordance with an informal agreement with the EPP parliamentary group. The EPP nominated the 42-year-old Maltese politician Roberta Metsola for the post. Your choice to succeed Sassolis is considered certain.
Von der Leyen: “A dear friend”
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her “deep sorrow over the death of a great Italian and European”, who was also a “dear friend” to her. EU Council President Charles Michel praised Sassoli as a “sincere and passionate European”: “We miss his human warmth, generosity, friendliness and smile.” The Dutch EU Commissioner Frans Timmermanns wrote on Twitter that Sassoli’s warmth was “an inspiration for everyone who knew him ”.
The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced: “As a man of the institutions, as a staunch pro-European, as a passionate journalist, Sassoli was a symbol of balance, humanity and generosity.” These qualities are shared by all his colleagues from all political directions and all European countries has always been recognized as evidence of his extraordinary civic passion, listening ability and constant commitment to the service of the citizen. PD boss Enrico Letta described him as a “person of extraordinary generosity and a passionate European”.
The social democrat Sassoli was part of the personnel package agreed between the heads of state and government in July 2019 in order to fill the top European posts. Until then, he had been head of the Italian Social Democrats in the European Parliament and benefited from the fact that they made up the second largest group in the group after the European elections – after Spain, which occupied the post of group chairman.
Lifelong connected with Tuscany
As usual, it was agreed at the time to split the parliamentary chairmanship; in the second half a Christian Democrat should take over this office. However, Sassoli himself spent months probing whether he could find a majority in order to be re-elected. He justified this internally with the pandemic, which had limited his sphere of activity, and most recently with the increased importance of social democracy after the SPD’s election victory in Germany. However, he did not succeed in winning over the liberals in parliament – they followed Emmanuel Macron’s announcement to adhere to the agreement with the EPP.
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