Valery Giscard d’Estaing, France’s former president and one of the key architects of the European integration has died at the age of 94 from COVID-19 complications, his foundation announced on Wednesday evening. 

In November, Giscard, often referred to as VGE, was admitted to hospital with respiratory problems and although he recovered, he was re-admitted in mid-November. 

VGE died in his family home in Loir-et-Cher, after “his state of health had deteriorated,” the Foundation Valery Giscard d’Estaing wrote in a Twitter post. It added that “in accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in the strictest family privacy.”

Paying tribute to his predecessor, French President Emmanuel Macron described VGE as a “servant of the State” and a “great European” whose death “plunged the French nation into mourning.”

VGE marked an era of modernisation for France, as under his term, from 1974-1981, the country legalised abortion and divorce by mutual consents, lowered the voting age to 18 from 21 and introduced legislation on equal pay and opportunities persons with disabilities. He also marked the beginning of a new era for Europe, as ge proposed the creation of the European Council in 1974 to formalise meetings between European heads of state, while along with former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, they laid the foundations for the euro single currency, setting up the European Monetary System.

“With the passing of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, France loses a statesman, Germany a friend, and all of us a great European,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. 


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