Wednesday 3 July 2019 2:34 pm

MEPs pick Italian as new European parliament president

The European parliament named an Italian social democrat as its new president today to complete a raft of new appointments to fill the highest-ranking roles in the EU.

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David Sassoli, 63, beat three German, Spanish and Czech candidates to the role, which he will begin immediately.

His victory follows EU leaders agreeing nominations for the bloc’s three biggest jobs yesterday, when a woman was picked for the first time as the next leader of the European Commission.

In a speech after his victory, Sassoli called Brexit “painful” and said the EU was an “imperfect” union that required reform.

“We need to strengthen our capacity to play a leading role in democracy,” he said, calling for a change in the EU’s system for asylum seekers.

“You can’t continue to kick this down the road. We don’t want citizens asking ‘where’s Europe’ every time an emergency happens.”

Sassoli succeeds fellow Italian, former army officer Antonio Tajani, in the position.

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen was nominated as the EU Commission’s next president yesterday, lined up to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

Meanwhile EU leaders also threw their support behind International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Christine Larage to become the new president of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Lagarde would take over from current ECB boss Mario Draghi.

However, she lacks central banking experience and has been criticised for supporting controversial funding measures during the Eurozone financial crisis.

An IMF watchdog raised fears that the fund’s conduct displayed “issues of accountability and transparency”.

Read more: Eurozone manufacturing falls to three-month low

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel is also set to replace Donald Tusk as the new president of the European Council.