European Parliament President David Sassoli passed away in Aviano (Italy) on 11 January.
A Member of the European Parliament since 2009, he was elected President in July 2019 for the first half of the legislature.
President Sassoli adopted extraordinary measures enabling the European Parliament to carry out its duties and exercise its prerogatives under the Treaties during the course of the pandemic. He also played a prominent role in championing an ambitious long-term EU budget and effective recovery facility.
In addition, the late President led Parliament in showing its solidarity towards the less fortunate when the crisis first hit, with supportive actions in European Parliament’s host cities such as providing meals to charities and shelter in Parliament’s premises to women who are victims of violence.
Determined to draw from the lessons of the pandemic, President Sassoli also launched a large reflection exercise with Members to rethink and reinforce Parliamentary democracy.
As a dedicated European, President Sassoli underlined in his speech at the European Council in December a few weeks ago that “What Europe needs, and needs most of all, is a new project of hope. I think we can build that project on the basis of a powerful three-pronged approach: a Europe that innovates; a Europe that protects; and a Europe that illuminates.”
A ceremony to honour his memory will take place on Monday 17 January at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg in the presence of former MEP and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
In Rome, President David Sassoli will lie in state on Thursday 13 January from 10.00 to 18.00 in Sala della Protomoteca of the Campidoglio. The funeral service will take place on Friday 14 January at 12.00 in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
As outlined in the Rules of Procedure (Rule 20), the interim Presidency will be ensured by the first Vice-President of the Parliament in the days leading up to the election of a new President. As originally planned before the sudden passing of President Sassoli, the election of the President for the second half of the mandate will take place on Tuesday 18 January during the Strasbourg plenary. The elections of the Vice-Presidents and Quaestors will follow in the same week.
The EPP Group in the European Parliament says it is shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Parliament’s President David Sassoli.
“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 Chairman Manfred Weber MEP this morning.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends in this very difficult moment”, continued Weber.Italian ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto said: “I am very sorry to hear of the death of David Sassoli, a man and politician of great depth with whom I always had fair disputes but shared a very trusting working relationship which, despite our differences of opinion, was always based on respect. On behalf of the ECR Group, I express my deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Polish ECR Co-Chairman Ryszard Legutko said: “The death of President Sassoli is a great loss not only for us MEPs but for the whole of Europe. Respected as a person and for his manner, even by his political opponents, he was someone who listened keenly and who did his utmost to bring different positions together. We will miss him dearly.”
S&D Group president, Iratxe García MEP, said: “Today is a very sad day for all of us. We are devastated by our loss and we will keep working for the values that our friend and colleague David Sassoli fought for. President Sassoli did a great job during the last two years and a half. He made it possible for the parliament to continue its work during the worst period of the pandemic, and led this house in a spirit of dialogue, respect and cooperation; always working for the citizens and for a Europe of cohesion, justice and solidarity.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has voiced sadness at the death of David Sassoli.She said, “Today is a sad day for Europe. Our Union loses a passionate European, a sincere democrat and a good man. David Sassoli was a man of deep faith and strong convictions. Everyone loved his smile and his kindness, yet he knew how to fight for what he believed in. In 1989, he was in Berlin, among the young Europeans when the Wall came down. And ever since, he has stood on the side of democracy and of a united Europe. In over a decade of service in the European Parliament, he constantly defended our Union and its values. But he also believed that Europe had to strive for more. He wanted Europe to be more united, closer to its people, more faithful to our values. That is his legacy.”
“That is how I will remember him. As a champion of justice and solidarity, and a dear friend. My thoughts are with his wife, Alessandra, his children, Giulio and Livia, and all his friends.”
“Un uomo que a lottato per la giustizia e la solidarietà, e un buon amico. I miei pensieri vanno alla moglie, Alessandra, ai figli Giulio e Livia, e a tutti i suo-i amichi.”