Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981, a key architect of European Integration in the early 1970’s, has died Wednesday at the age of 94, his office and the French presidency said.

He passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France, after contracting COVID-19 and suffering from complications linked to the virus. He had recently been hospitalized in the town of Tours, which is in western France. He had been admitted to the hospital in September with respiratory complications and was hospitalized again in mid-November.

Born in 1926, Giscard d’Estaing served in the Free French army that helped liberate France during World War II. Charles de Gaulle named him finance minister at age 36.

Elected president at 48, he came to power after Charles de Gaulle’s long rule, seeking to liberalize the economy and social attitudes and credited with launching major projects including France’s high-speed TGV train network.

As president, he helped forge a single Europe with his close friend, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Together they laid the foundations for the euro single currency, setting up the European Monetary System.

The head of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party in parliament, Christophe Castaner, said: “His modern and resolutely progressive policies will long mark his legacy.” Tributes are being made from leaders around the world.

“In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in strict privacy,” his office said.

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