‘European visionary’ Sassoli dies

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David Maria Sassoli, outgoing President of the European Parliament, whose term ended next week, died in a hospital in Italy on Monday. Politicians and colleagues praised his vision for a stronger Union. He was 65.

Cyprus House Speaker Annita Demetriou said, “the European family lost a very valuable member”.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he was “extremely saddened to hear of the death of EP President David Sassoli.

“His work on modernising the European Parliament was visionary.”

Similar tributes poured in, especially from the European Popular Party, with Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, saying she was “heartbroken”.

“Europe has lost a leader; I have a lost a friend, democracy has lost a champion.

“David Sassoli dedicated his life to making the world a better, fairer place.

“His Parliament joins Alessandra, Giulio & Livia in mourning their loss.”

In an initial statement, the EPP praised Sassoli, saying he was a true European and passionate ambassador of a more united and social Europe.

“We are extremely sad and shocked by the passing of President David Sassoli. We have no words.

“He was a true European and passionate ambassador of a more united and social Europe”, said EPP Group Chair Manfred Weber MEP.

In an obituary, Politico said the Italian journalist-turned-politician helped steer the EU legislature through historic budget talks and the first years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sassoli died just days before the end of his term as President of the 705-member Parliament, which is due to elect his successor in Strasbourg next week.

Since September, he had been battling serious illness, including pneumonia, and was hospitalised multiple times, most recently on December 26.