Henning Christophersen, a former vice president of the European Union's executive commission who previously was a senior government member in Denmark, has died. He was 77.

Senior EU official Jens Nymand Christensen, a close friend, told Danish media that Christophersen died Saturday in a Brussels hospital.

Christophersen headed Denmark's ruling Liberal Party for six years until 1984, when Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen joined the party that he now leads.

Loekke Rasmussen called him "the reason that politics became my fate."

Christophersen was the country's foreign and finance minister from 1979-1982. As vice president of the EU Commission between 1985 and 1995, Christophersen was in charge of budget, economic and financial affairs.

Nymand Christensen says Christophersen died surrounded by family at the hospital where he was admitted early in December.