In the early hours of Tuesday morning, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli died in his native Italy. The news came as a shock – Sassoli was just 65 and was carrying out presidential duties just days before his death.
Praised for his dedication to Europe and garnering support from various political angles, the former journalist was a widely popular President who proved adept at navigating the more divisive issues that took place during his time in office.
In Brussels, the bubble of European institutions can sometimes seem a little insular and difficult to relate to. It’s hard enough getting your head around Belgium’s own political patchwork of regional and federal authorities, let alone figuring out the delicate interplay between EU-wide organisations.
However, whilst critics often lament the opacity of this structure (indeed, Brexit’s ringleaders lambasted the EU for being anti-democratic), Sassoli’s voice of moderation will be missed.
The President’s Christmas address acknowledged the barriers that are being put up around the EU and called for a human approach to many of the continent’s challenges. If anything, the pandemic has underlined the need for international cooperation rather than dealing with major issues on a state by state basis.
As European flags fly at half-mast, Sassoli’s spirit should live on.
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