Sassoli has struggled with health problems before. In September, the Social Democrat was admitted to Strasbourg with severe pneumonia caused by Legionnaires’ Disease. After two months, he returned to the European Parliament weakened.
The Italian was in the European Parliament for more than ten years. In 2019 he took over the gavel. During meetings, the former journalist preferred to speak in Italian, usually making a calm and simple impression.
Sassoli announced last month that he would not stand for a new term. He was due to retire from his prominent job next week after the election of a new chairman.
‘I’m short of words’
In Brussels, politicians are shocked at the sad news. “I am short of words. His kindness was an inspiration to everyone who knew him,” said PvdA prominent and European Commissioner Frans Timmermans. “Addio amico mio.”
CDA delegation leader Esther de Lange, who was in the race for the presidency earlier this year, calls Sassoli “an ardent supporter of the European project.” De Lange praises his commitment to freedom of expression. PvdA MEP Agnes Jongerius is deeply touched by the sad message: “David was a great European, a strong voice for democracy in Europe and above all a very nice man.”
‘Black day for Europe’
VVD leader Malik Azmani speaks of ‘a black day for Europe’. “A European leader and above all an amiable man passed away last night,” the liberal reacts shocked. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wished Sassoli a speedy recovery via Twitter on Monday. She reacts shocked to the death of her friend and colleague: “I am deeply saddened by the terrible loss of a great European and proud Italian.”