European Data Protection Supervisor
European Data Protection Supervisor

I have lost an older brother

I have lost an older brother

Monday, 2 September, 2019

I have lost an older brother.

An older brother is someone you watch, follow, copy and of whom you feel. Whom you want to show you are mature enough, but you know you still need a lot of time to catch up.

The older brother is the person you sometimes do not agree with. You are arguing with him, but even then, you always try to understand why your opinions differ, and you tend to check is not it the sign that you are wrong and he is right?. Giovanni sometimes called us “twin brothers”, but that is not the case. We looked like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and there was no doubt who was more experienced and who could see beyond the horizon.

Frascati has lost a son who always remembered he came from a small town with a 2500-year history.
You did not manage to show me that Frascati. I was imagining your footsteps only on the day of your funeral. I did not manage to show you “Danziga”.

But you have lead me through Brussels - our second hometown, which we both appreciated. The maze of EU institutions and agencies. But whereever I went my older brother had already been there before.
You managed to fit us both - the “Tall Man” and the “Fat Man” - into your favourite tiny pizzeria in Saint Gilles where - amongst students - we where the only guys in suits and ties looking like aliens from planet Bureaucracy. And I made you try all kinds of fruit vodkas in the cellars of the Castle of Warsaw during the International Conference AD 2013. But I have to admit ... you were the last man standing with the shot of the very Polish beverage at midnight.

Italy lost one of the best ambassadors in the EU. You were proud to have the history of the Republic, the Empire and Vatican’s stories as foundations of law in Europe and an idea of united continent. Testing us on Rubicon, Latin legal maxims and proverbs about cardinals.

Europe lost the visionary. But you were not a fiction teller. You knew any vision had to have a solid ground to be built on. Though you were the man of smiles, I rarely saw you more happy than the day shared with us the stories of 1957 and 2017 discussed at the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome you attended.
I have lost an “older brother”.

Ciao Giovanni! Our Next pizza we will eat at Saint Peter’s.

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Photo of Giovanni Buttarelli and Wojciech Wiewiórowski