"Europe has lost an emblematic intellectual and political figure. His exile and his experience as a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp would mark his life and work, making him a great witness of European history and one of the foremost voices on the Holocaust," said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, expressing the EU assembly's condolences to Semprún's family and friends and to the Spanish government.
"As a politician, his engagement and conviction for democracy represents a source of inspiration for the European project. As a renowned novelist and scriptwriter, Jorge Semprún has left us a prolific legacy and a unique contribution to Spanish, French and European literature. His work represents a valuable testimony for all Europeans," Buzek added.
Semprún has written some thirty books, many of them about Europe, winning top awards for novels he wrote in both Spanish and French.
A Spanish Civil War exile, Semprún was raised in France and wrote mostly in French. He was admitted in 1996 to France's Academie Goncourt, which awards one of the country's most prestigious literary prizes each year.
French MEP Catherine Trautmann (Socialists & Democrats) referred to Semprún as a man of conviction who "took the risk of words".
She also highlighted Semprún's affection for and elegant way of writing in the French language, expressing her conviction that his readers would "keep his work alive".
The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed him as a "Frenchman by adoption" and a "leading figure amongst committed 20th Century writers".
Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said "we all must remember and pay tribute to him and we all regret his loss. Jorge Semprún has gone down in history as one of the best democrats in Europe and Spain".
In his most recent French-language work 'Europe from yesterday to today: a tomb cradled in clouds' (Une tombe au creux des nuages: Essais sur l’Europe d’hier et d’aujourd’hui), the writer looks back on the main events of the 20th Century in Europe and, in light of his own experience, puts into perspective current issues surrounding European integration.
The book is a collection of several lectures he gave in Germany between 1986 and 2005. It deals with his memory of the concentration camps, as well as European democracy, the communist experience in Central and Western Europe, the future of the European left and even the influence of Jewish thought in the 20th Century.