EU leaders paid tribute to the late President of the European Parliament David Sassoli on Monday, hailing his kindness, humility, ideals, and devotion to Europe.
European Council President Charles Michel remembered Sassoli’s “ideals of social justice and solidarity” and attachment to democratic values.
He added that Sassoli “didn’t mince his words” when criticising governments that he felt were not helping migrants.
Just a month ago, Michel said, Sassoli had talked about “going beyond” questions of current events to renew the European project.
“You proposed a new project of hope for Europe, a project that could represent our union, our values, and our civilisation,” Michel said, stating that it was up to the bloc to translate his vision into action.
French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is chairing the council’s rotating presidency, said it was with great emotion that he remembered “a man of rare kindness, whose smile, whose ideals and whose vision were big enough for a whole continent.”
Multiple leaders spoke about Sassoli opening the doors of European institutions to help families and women in the early days of the pandemic.
“The Europe that he defended was the Europe of solidarity. Solidarity between its citizens and its members. The Europe that he defended is strong. It has force in unity,” Macron said.
“He never lost view of the importance of defending the rule of law in Europe, in this continent and elsewhere,” Macron added.
In a eulogy, former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Sassoli saw Europe as a project of peace and a “process in history” to continue building with a “new vision” that was “greener and more sustainable”.
Sassoli was also dedicated to the project of democracy, he said.
“Democracy is not a gift, but an achievement that must be earned over and over again. These beliefs were at the very core of David’s actions as president of this parliament,” Letta said.
Sassoli’s family, including his wife and children, attended the ceremony along with several European leaders including the Italian PM Mario Draghi, Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Croatia’s Andrej Plenković and Malta’s Robert Abela.