PARIS (Reuters) – Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a key architect of European integration in the early 1970s, has died at the age of 94, the Elysee Palace said on Wednesday.



Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Diana, Princess of Wales posing for the camera: FILE PHOTO: Diana Princess of Wales and former French President Giscard d'Estaing during theatre event at Versailles


© Reuters/John Schults
FILE PHOTO: Diana Princess of Wales and former French President Giscard d’Estaing during theatre event at Versailles



Valery Giscard d'Estaing wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Paris


© Reuters/Benoit Tessier
FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Paris

Giscard, who was France’s leader from 1974 to 1981, had recently been hospitalised in Tours, in western France, and was being treated in the cardiology unit, according to Europe 1 radio, which first reported his death.



Valery Giscard d'Estaing standing in front of a book shelf: FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing poses in his office at his Paris home


© Reuters/Benoit Tessier
FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing poses in his office at his Paris home

Giscard was known for steering a modernisation of French society during his presidency, including allowing divorce by mutual consent and legalising abortion, and was one of the architects of European integration.

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Elected president at 48, he came to power after years of Gaullist rule and sought to liberalise the economy and social attitudes.

He lost his re-election bid, however, to Socialist Francois Mitterrand.

In Europe, he forged a close relationship with former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt and together they laid the foundations for the euro single currency, setting up the European Monetary System.



Pierre Messmer wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, 78, dressed in the French academicians uniform before a ceremony in Paris


© Reuters/John Schults
FILE PHOTO: Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, 78, dressed in the French academicians uniform before a ceremony in Paris

(Reporting by Michel Rose, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O’Brien)



Valery Giscard d'Estaing wearing glasses talking on a cell phone: Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing attends a news conference in Paris


© Reuters/CHARLES PLATIAU
Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing attends a news conference in Paris

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