Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the previous French president and a preeminent architect of the European Union, died Wednesday night time on the age of 94 as a consequence of COVID-19, his basis stated.
Giscard, usually referred to easily as VGE, died in his household house in Loir-et-Cher, France, after his well being had deteriorated, the Fondation Valéry Giscard d’Estaing stated in a tweet.
A number one determine of the French center-right, VGE led France from 1974, when he defeated François Mitterrand, till 1981, when Mitterrand gained the presidency. He was recognized for his reformist tenure, distancing itself from Charles de Gaulle’s legacy on the best. His authorities legalized abortion and divorce by mutual consent, and lowered the voting age to 18, and his 1974 constitutional reform gave parliamentary minorities the best to problem the constitutionality of a regulation.
VGE was additionally a agency believer in Europe and key proponent of European integration within the Seventies, along with shut ally Helmut Schmidt, the previous chancellor of West Germany. VGE proposed the creation of the European Council in 1974 to formalize conferences between European heads of state. He inaugurated Strasbourg’s Palace of Europe a 12 months after the 1976 Electoral Act was handed, which led to the primary European direct elections in 1979. VGE additionally co-created with Schmidt the European Financial System, a regime of mounted however adjustable trade charges between European currencies, between 1978 and 1979.
Later he was elected to the European Parliament, serving from 1989 to 1993.
All through his profession, VGE served at each degree of French politics, together with as mayor, minister, president of the Auvergne area amd member of the Constitutional Council. In 2003, he joined the Académie Française, the celebrated council on the French language, whose members are referred to as the “immortals.”
Amongst youthful generations, VGE can be recognized for his concession speech after his defeat to Mitterrand, saying “Au revoir” to the French folks earlier than theatrically leaving his desk.
Extra not too long ago, Giscard d’Estaing was dealing with accusations of sexual assault from German journalist Ann-Kathrin Stracke. The Paris prosecutor’s workplace opened an investigation final Might after Stracke filed a grievance saying the previous president touched her on the bottom 3 times throughout a 2018 interview.
French President Emmanuel Macron saluted the lifetime of “this immense servitor of the State” and “man of progress and liberty” in a Thursday morning assertion from the Élysée. “The orientations he gave to France nonetheless information our steps,” the assertion stated, tracing his history-spanning biography from taking over arms for the liberation of Paris in 1944 to his push for a European structure within the early 2000s.
Two former French presidents stay alive: Nicolas Sarkozy, who led the nation from 2007 to 2012, and François Hollande, his successor, who served till 2017. Former President Jacques Chirac died final 12 months at age 86.
Sarkozy stated in a Twitter submit that Giscard had “labored his complete life to bolster the bonds between European nations, sought and achieved the modernization of political life, and devoted his nice intelligence to analyzing essentially the most complicated worldwide points.”
François Hollande wrote, “We’re dropping a statesman who made the selection of opening to the world and thought Europe was the situation for France to be better.”
Each chambers of the French parliament, which had been in session Wednesday night time, held a minute of silence to honor VGE.
“For Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Europe needed to be a French ambition, and France a contemporary nation. Respect,” tweeted the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who belongs to the identical political household as VGE.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: “With the passing of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, France loses a statesman, Germany a good friend, and all of us a terrific European.”
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was among the many first European leaders to supply his condolences on Twitter, saying France had misplaced “a terrific president and a builder of Europe.”
Pierre-Paul Bermingham contributed reporting.
This text has been up to date.