Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing dies aged 94

2 December 2020, 23:46 | Updated: 3 December 2020, 11:18

Valery Giscard d'Estaing died following complications linked to Covid-19
Valery Giscard d'Estaing died following complications linked to Covid-19. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has died from coronavirus-related complications at the age of 94.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing served as France's leader between 1974 and 1981 and became a champion of European integration during his premiership.

His office and the French presidency announced he had recently been taken to hospital in Tours, in central France.

On Wednesday, the ex-president passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France.

“His state of health had worsened and he died as a consequence of Covid-19,” his family said in a statement to AFP.

The Foundation Valéry Giscard d’Estaing tweeted on Wednesday: “In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in the strictest family intimacy.”

Tributes poured in from across French politics on Wednesday, with fellow former president Nicolas Sarkozy saying Giscard had “worked his whole life to reinforce relations between European nations”.

The head of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party in parliament, Christophe Castaner, said: “His modern and resolutely progressive policies… will long mark his legacy.”

Former Brexit Coordinator for the EU Guy Verhofstadt MEP said: "May his commitment and the energy he so ably demonstrated on the Convention guide us in our work in the Conference on the Future of Europe."

Born in 1926, the former leader served in the Free French army that helped liberate France during the Second World War.

He was named as finance minister at the age of 36 by Charles de Gaulle.

As president, he helped forge a single Europe with his close friend German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Working together, the pair laid the foundations for the euro single currency that exists today.

Considered at the time a model of a modern president, Mr Giscard d'Estaing notably legalised abortion and divorce by mutual consent.

However, in 1981, he lost his re-election bid to the Socialist candidate Francois Mitterrand.