Tributes are being paid to former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, a key figure in European politics throughout the 1990s, who has died at the age of 73.
A renowned advocate of deeper integration within the EU, he died after a fall while on holiday in France but had been in poor health for some time.
Friends, colleagues and admirers including two men battling to become the next European Commission President, have described him in glowing terms.
For Socialist candidate, Martin Schulz, currently European Parliament President, he was:
“A man who fought for his deep convictions that peace and social justice in Europe depend on European nations cooperating with each other. I always admired his personal honesty.”
For the Liberals candidate, Guy Verhofstadt, who succeeded Dehaene as Belgian premier:
“He was a great European, someone who really wanted Europe to move forward. A man who thought that Europe should play a bigger role in helping resolve our problems.”
Dehaene served as Belgium’s prime minister from 1992 to 1999.
In the 1990s, he had looked set to become Commission President himself but his bid was vetoed by Britain, judging him to be too much of a federalist.