His spokesman and the Parliament Office in Washington said David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, died early Tuesday morning in Italy. He was 65 years old.
office said In a post on Twitter Mr. Sassoli has died in the Italian city of Aviano.
The cause of death was not immediately known. But he was hospitalized with severe pneumonia during a plenary session of Parliament in Strasbourg, France, in September. The Associated Press reported that he later returned to Italy to recover.
His spokesman, Roberto Coelho, said on Monday that Mr. Sassoli was hospitalized again in Italy on December 26 because his immune system was not working normally. on social media.
Mr. Sassoli, a member of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party, has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009. He was elected Vice-President five years later, and has led the body since 2019.
Nearly three years ago, he was little known outside Italy when he defeated Jan Zhradel, the Euroskeptic candidate from the Czech Republic, after two rounds of voting.
Mr Sassoli’s spokesman said in mid-December that he would not seek a second term, lasting two and a half years, before a vote scheduled for next week in Strasbourg.
The European Parliament approves or rejects legislation, sets budgets and oversees a variety of institutions within the European Union. Its 700+ members serve for five-year terms; Next elections in 2024. Parliament also plays a crucial role in selecting the President of the European Commission, whose members are appointed by national governments.
The current chair of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, addressed Mr. Sassoli’s illness in Share on Twitter Monday night.
“Dear David, my thoughts are with you as you fight for your health,” she wrote. “I wish you a speedy and full recovery. Good courage, as you often say.”
Roberta Mezzola, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, wrote on twitter Early on Tuesday she was “sad” about his death.
“Europe has lost a leader, it has lost a friend, and democracy has lost a hero,” wrote Mitsola, the conservative lawmaker from Malta who is running to succeed Mr Sassoli.
David Maria Sassoli was born in Florence, Italy on May 30, 1956, according to his website and a short biography published online by his political group in Parliament.
He worked as a journalist before joining the European Parliament. He was married to Alessandra Vittorini and had two children, Livia and Giulio, according to his website.
It was Mr. Sassoli A champion of European values and integration. In April 2021, he warned that a ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Court – which found the country’s constitution superior to some laws established by the union – had challenged “one of the founding principles of our union”.
He told the New York Times the same month that he was “satisfied” with the European Parliament’s decision to strip a neo-Nazi Greek MP of his immunity as a member of the commission. (The lawmaker, Ioannis Lagos, was later extradited to Greece from Brussels to serve a 13-year prison sentence.)
In October, Mr. Sassoli Alexei A. Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, for “fighting tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”
“It almost cost him his freedom and his life,” he wrote on Twitter, after the European Union awarded Mr Navalny its highest human rights award. “Today’s award is in recognition of his tremendous courage and we reiterate our call for his immediate release.”
in a Last Twitter messageOn January 1, Mr. Sassoli described the euro as “a symbol of peace and integration, the fruits of a historical political vision, of a united continent with a single currency for a single market.”