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Weber (Ppe): “Sassoli a great European, he opened the Parliament buildings to the weak”

from Francesca Basso, correspondent from Brussels

The leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber remembers the president of the EU Parliament on the day of his death: “Sassoli wanted to make the EU Parliament the democratic engine of the European Union”

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
BRUSSELS – «For us it is a very sad day, it is the first time in the history of Parliament that a president in office has died. We lose a great European ». Manfred Weber, EPP group leader in the Strasbourg Chamber and ideally David Sassoli’s political rival, remembers the president of the European Parliament on the day of his death, speaking to a small group of Italian journalists. Weber participated in the commemoration organized by Iratxe García Pérez, leader of the socialists and democrats of which Sassoli was a member, which gathered MEPs and officials in front of the EU Parliament: a minute of silence followed by a long moving applause. Weber immediately underlined the human aspect of Sassoli: “It is a shock to us all. We are shaken. He was a man with a strong ambition, he was very close to people as we saw when discussing political issues with him, he always referred to concrete examples. And an example is what was done at the beginning of the pandemic, when opened the European Parliament buildings to the homeless, women and children. It was a clear sign of Sassoli’s closeness to people and how he took care of them“.

For Weber, the “enormous success” of Sassoli’s mandate was “keeping Parliament running during the pandemic”: «In the past months, having to guarantee compliance with health measures on the one hand and the operation of the EU Parliament on the other has been extremely challenging for all of us but above all for David as president of the institution – he explained -. The other presidents had a normal presidency, they were able to travel, deliver speeches and help explain Europe. Sassoli had to manage the biggest crisis since the Second World War“.

There were differences between the two, after all they belonged to two different political families. “He was a socialist, he had a social democratic background, but I always saw him as a bridge builder – remembers Weber – as a person who wanted to overcome divisions in society and in political discussions but at the same time support his ideas ». The EPP group leader goes even further in remembrance: “When he was vice president I had not had the opportunity to know him well, but my colleagues had described him, using my terminology, as a Christian Democrat who builds bridges. When you look at another Member of Parliament and at people in general, you first have to see their personality and not their political background or their ideas. From the first moment the relationship was between Manfred and David not between the EPP and the socialists, this was extremely important in managing things. There weren’t many personal connections in the beginning. But in two and a half years there has never been a discussion as to whether or not to support Sassoli, we all agreed in the EPP. Certain, we had discussions on the political perspectives of the institutions, especially on budgetary rules, on how to finance public finances. He not only looked at the general numbers, the billions of euros, but always had in mind the mothers, pensioners and other people who would be beneficiaries ».

Sassoli, according to Weber, “he understood that Europe was important for the future of Italy but also that Italy was important for the future of Europe, and these two elements were key in his commitment ». «Sassoli was elected with a large majority in the EU Parliament, he was immediately perceived as a personality accepted by the different parts of the political landscape. This is the starting point – concludes Weber -. In discussions I’ve always seen him as a person who wanted to keep things together, that he wanted to make the EU Parliament the democratic engine of the European Union“.

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