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Sassoli and the commitment to build bridges in Europe: “Nobody can be satisfied with what exists”

from Francesca Basso, correspondent from Brussels

The battles of the President of the EU Parliament David Sassoli in defense of European democracy

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
BRUSSELS – The smile. The first thing that struck about David Sassoli was his smile, in public ceremonies, during plenaries, while reading the most serious speeches, in interviews. It was unsettling. The smile of the President of the European Parliament was never mockery, it was rather inclusion. In his inauguration speech, delivered on July 3, 2019, he simply said that “No one can be satisfied with preserving the existing”. And his commitment in recent years between Brussels and Strasbourg has been of give strength to the European project, “the only one capable of responding to the global challenges we have before us” and in which “the citizens have shown that they still believe”. He tried to “To make Parliament the protagonist of a complete European democracy”.

Deep connoisseur of European themes and dynamics, made his first entry into the EU Parliament in 2009 with the Democratic Party, abandoning a dense journalistic career that had led him to the deputy director of Tg1. Reconfirmed in 2014, he was appointed vice president of the EU Parliament to become president in 2019. “We think more often about the world we have, about the freedoms we enjoy – was his exhortation at the beginning of the mandate – so let’s face it, since others in the East or in the West, or in the South they find it hard to recognize it, that many things make us different, not better, simply different, and that we Europeans are proud of our diversity“. This was one of its strengths, the ability to build bridges between diversities.

His commitment in recent years had been enlarge the so-called “Ursula majority”, made up of popular, socialists and liberals – the groups that in the EU Parliament had voted for support for the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen – to involve the Greens as well. In his latest interview with Corriere della Sera, in which he announced that he would not reapply as head of the hemicycle, he explained that “Institutions come first”: “We must unite and not divide the majority in Parliament” in the face of the upcoming challenges that European politics will have to face, while underlining «the centrality of the Socialists and Democrats group in the response to the crisis. Nobody can deny that today the socialists represent the new wind of this political season ”. However, he had chosen to take a step back.

It is inevitable for him to also take stock. “I tried to strengthen the centrality of Parliament – he explained in the interview -. It has been a very difficult two and a half years but Parliament’s leading role has made itself felt in every step“. Alongside positive and relevant results such as the response to the crisis triggered by Covid through the Next Generation Eu common debt or the mechanism that binds the EU budget to respect for the rule of law, Sassoli did not hide his regret for “not being able to do a real step towards a common policy on immigration and asylum ». “If there is no respect for life, Europe does not exist”, he said urging European governments to “move from hatred to responsible solidarity”.

The message he had launched at the end of his mandate was no different from that delivered in his inauguration speech, always projected towards building a better future: “In Europe we must not stop – he concluded – because we cannot miss the opportunity to transform our continent“. David Sassoli was 65 years old, he died on 11 January in Aviano where he had been hospitalized since 26 December.

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