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on Thursday, 28 September 2017 in Dispatches

Ferdinando R

Ferdinando Riccardi, who has died on 22 September at the age of 89, was for many years the voice and face of Agence Europe. There was a time, not so long ago, when the first duty in the morning of almost every Brussel-based journalist was to leaf through its daily edition. At first, this would have been mostly the blue colour, French-language edition, but in later years it would have increasingly been the pink-colour, English-language edition, as English took over as the lingua franca of Brussels. Riccardi embodied the publication and considered being called a federalist a compliment.

Ferdinando Riccardi was born in Turin and moved to Brussels in 1958. Though he preferred to write and speak in French, his language and perspective, throughout more than half a century in the Belgian capital, was that of a deeply committed European. Every day, every month, year on year, his daily column could be found on the first page of the ‘Bulletin’ of Agence Europe. There he would not only comment on the most recent developments in European politics, he would also often draw upon his own personal experiences and observations of European integration to look towards its long-term future. In an interview with Le Soir in 2011, he recalled that during the Second World War one of his brothers was deported to a concentration camp where he died. “For me, peace is not something we should take for granted,” he said.

Still, Riccardi never lost faith in a positive future for Europe. In the same interview, he added: “When I see the rise of Euroscepticism, this doesn’t make me afraid. With hindsight, historians will say that this movement has helped Europe to move forward.”

In the language of Voltaire, Riccardi was a vieux routier, and in German he was an Urgestein – veteran – among European journalists. Along with Emmanuele Gazzo, the co-founder of Agence Europe, he was for many years one of the most influential writers on European affairs.

To those who saw him almost on a daily basis – whether in the old cosy press room of the Berlaymont or later in the Breydel press room – he was a kind and generous colleague. He will be fondly remembered as a cheerful and regular contributor to the Annual General meetings of API-IPA. That he would almost always be allowed to ask the first question in the press room, didn’t bother anyone. The quality of his questions – and his journalistic work – were always highly appreciated.


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