President European Parliament Sassoli dies at 65


European Union


Presdient Sassoli in the chair. Photo EPA, Oliver Hoslet

European Parliament President David Sassoli died in the night from Monday to Tuesday, his spokesman Roberto Cuillo reported on Twitter.

Sassoli died at 1.15 am in hospital in the Italian city of Aviano, where he was admitted on December 26. The date and place of his funeral will be communicated in the coming hours, Cuillo said. The Dutch press agency ANP reported this.

On Monday, Cuillo announced that the 65-year-old Italian Social Democrat had been hospitalised because of “serious complications” resulting from the “dysfunction of the immune system”. All his appointments were therefore cancelled. Sassoli had already been hospitalised with pneumonia caused by Legionnaires’ disease in September.

Roberta Metsola

The leading of the European Parliament was frequently taken over in his absence by First Vice-President Roberta Metsola, a Christian Democrat from Malta. She also replaced the ailing Sassoli in September at the important speech of the union in parliament by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Metsola responded early Tuesday morning on Twitter to Sassoli’s death: “My heart is broken. Europe has lost a leader, I have lost a friend, and democracy has lost a champion.” European Commissioner Frans Timmermans also responded on Twitter. “I have no words for it. His kindness was an inspiration to everyone who knew him.”

Journalist by origin

A journalist by origin, Sassoli was elected to the European Parliament in the 2009 European elections. He became chairman on July 3 2019. The Christian Democrats then agreed with the Social Democrats and Liberals, the two largest political groups in the EU parliament, that they would be allowed to supply a new parliament speaker in January 2022, halfway through the five-year parliamentary term.

The Christian Democrats have nominated 42-year-old Metsola as parliament speaker. The election was already scheduled for the first plenary session of 2022 in Strasbourg next week.



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