News of European Parliament President David Sassoli’s death has seen many within the local, as well as continental, political scene rally in respect behind the European leader.
“Your loss leaves us all saddened. Thank you for all your contribution towards social justice and democracy. Your loss is a loss for all Europe,” PN leader Bernard Grech said.
“Deeply saddened by the death of European Parliament President David Sassoli – his contribution to the European Parliament for more solidarity and more democracy will live on,” said Prime Minister Robert Abela.
Sassoli, 65, died two weeks after being admitted to hospital.
Although the immediate cause of death has yet to be declared, Sassoli had been suffering from health problems in the past few months. He was hospitalised with severe pneumonia last September, and re-admitted to hospital on 26th December with an ‘abnormal functioning of his immune system’.
His death has shocked many, with touching tributes being released by people across the globe.
“Europe has lost a leader – a giant. I have lost a friend, democracy has lost a champion. We have lost one of us,” First Vice President Roberta Metsola wrote on social media.
“So sad to hear about David Sassoli’s passing. You will always stay in my memory as a great European, a patriot and my good friend. Rest in peace,” writes former EPP Donald Tusk.
Sassoli was a member of the European Parliament since 2009 but served as the entity’s president since 2019.
Late last year, there was some speculation that he could bid for a second term in office, but later reports claimed that he would not contest a second term in office as President.
Many others have rallied together in passing a few words of remembrance, including Malta’s MEPs.
“He led the European Parliament in its most difficult time with courage and determination,” writes Cyrus Engerer.
“Last night I lost a friend. I lost someone with who I did not talk only of politics with. And as Parliament, we lost a leader,” writes David Casa.
“David always fought for the European Union with the strongest of values. He worked fervently so that the principles of European solidarity would be practiced as well as preached,” writes Alex Agius Saliba.
“It was a privilege working alongside him as Heads of Delegations of our respective countries. Sincere condolences to his family, relatives and friends,” writes Miriam Dalli.
“Shocked by the news of President David Sassoli’s passing. In 2019, when I started my tenure as an MEP, we had elected Sassoli as President, and together, we worked with enthusiasm to build a European society that appealed to the hearts of the people. Throughout his tenure, he never disappointed,” writes Josianne Cutajar.
The Italian national first made a name for himself in journalism, starting his career at Il Tempo before moving on to Il Giorno.
During his seven-year stint with the Rome-based publication during the 1980s, Sassoli witnessed some vital turning points in Europe’s history, including the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Still, Sassoli would really start becoming a household name in 1992 after becoming a news reporter and newscaster for TG3.
He was the seventh Italian to have held the office, which is considered one of the bloc’s top jobs and involves chairing sessions and overseeing the parliament’s activities.
In his acceptance speech, Sassoli talked about the European project as a dream of peace and democracy. He said European citizens showed that they still believed in the project and talked about being proud of European diversity.
In his first public act as the newly elected president, Sassoli paid tribute to all the victims of terrorism in Europe.
As a sign of solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, he used the parliamentary premises to prepare meals for families in need and to test for COVID-19.
Sassoli will be remembered as a good-natured man who earned Parliament’s respect with his sense of organisation and loyalty to the bloc.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this difficult time.