Bruxelles, 17 Jan. 2022 – MEPs’ microphones are silent, today each of them only function is to hold up a white rose in remembrance of David Sassoli, a flower symbol of his lifelong fight for democracy since, as a young student in Rome, led the youth group ‘La Rosa Bianca’ (‘The White Rose’), in memory of the brave young Germans who fought against the Nazis.
EU Council President Charles Michel is one of the few main representative speakers of the ceremony held in Strasburg. Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi, Enrico Letta and heads of party coalition groups speak in front of David Sassoli’s wife, son and daughter.
A legacy of openness humanity, true democratic values, the intrinsic strength of “great ideas and kindness”.
“I remember his decision to open the doors of this house (the EU Parliament) to help women during the pandemic, moments that proved that kindness is not weakness”, said Charles Michel, and when “we were to face the reality of Brexit, I remember the press conference when we decided to symbolically mark the day of Brexit; it wasn’t very easy to transform such a setback into a moment of optimism, but David Sassoli found the right words, passionate words, to defend the European project, words that came from the heart and captivated the audience, inspiring to go further and better, and I thought that you, David, were right as these authoritarian powers are attacking Europe and criticising Europe because they are afraid of our democracy, our freedoms and our values, because what we do here in EU and works here can be realised elsewhere in the world. European values freedoms and democracy are existential threats to autocrats throughout the world”.
His “heart and ambition”, in the words of Macron. “When he provided that the buildings of EU Parliament, both in Strasburg and Brussels, remained open to prepare meals for the families in need during the pandemic, to set up tests for Covid-19 and help for victims of violence, sending Europe a message of humanity”, he recalled David’s ability to bring together the most distant parties overcoming cultural and linguistic differences. That inspiring leadership made of humility and strength to France now holding the six months Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Italy said goodbye to Sassoli with a State funeral last Friday, “it was an important moment of unity for our country” said Democratic Party (S&D), leader Enrico Letta, “the ceremony in Rome was a hymn to Europe. He gave us an indication of his great legacy”. Italy is going to elect its next president of the Republic and “over these days we listened to many people across the political spectrum saying David would have been an excellent president of the Republic”.
General mood is sad and there’s apprehension for the future: who will succeed to the EU Parliament President suddenly disappeared leaving a huge gap, nostalgy and, across the blue hemicycle, uncertainty…