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It is with great sadness that API-IPA has learned of the death of Franco Papitto, an early API member and member of the API Council, and for decades the figurehead of the Italian correspondents in Brussels.

Franco arrived in Brussels in 1973, at the age of 30, working for “Il Fiorino” and for the Radiocor agency, and from 1976 collaborating with La Repubblica, which hired him in 1980 as European affairs correspondent. His coverage of the negotiations for the Common Agricultural Policy, the most important sector of the European Community before the arrival of Jacques Delors, was masterly.

Also in 1980, he founded and then directed for five years ‘la Lettre européenne’, a subscription-only newspaper of which he was particularly proud, full of confidential news, insights and behind-the-scenes explanations, from excellent sources, of what was happening in the European institutions. What today would be called a newsletter, ante litteram.

Franco followed the great adventure of the Delors Commission (1985-1995) with the completion of the single market, and then the construction of the European Union and the euro with the Maastricht Treaty.

Deeply cultured and competent, he was striking for his modesty, his benevolence and his great irony. I have never met a less egocentric journalist. He did not understand and could not stand the English, he was a French speaker and in love with French culture, and he never gave in to the need to communicate mainly in English in Brussels, which became imperative after the enlargement of the EU.

He also disliked the digital revolution. Franco loved books, documents, printed paper, reflection and in-depth analysis, and hated superficiality.

He retired in 2006, and left Brussels to return to his native Calabria, where he tried but failed, unfortunately, to become the real mayor of his home town, Maida (near Lamezia), after having been the legendary ‘Mayor’ of Italian correspondents in Brussels for decades. He did, however, engage in various local investigative journalistic experiences, directing ‘Il Lametino’.

After the death in 2016 of his beloved wife Mirella Pagnanelli, the correspondent of Agi in Brussels, he began to travel between Maida, Portugal (where he found many retired former colleagues from Brussels, such as Antonio Maria Foresi and Paolo Cantore) and France, where his daughter Alessandra lives, with brief stops in Brussels as well.

He loved his two children very much, Alessandra and Enrico, to whom our thoughts turn today, full of sadness and gratitude for the great man and journalist who was their father, for our ideal Mayor whom we will never forget.

Lorenzo ConsoliI

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