The European Parliament has elected Italian socialist David Sassoli as its president for the next two-and-half years.

It completes the round of appointments for the European Union's top jobs after elections to the parliament in May.

Mr Sassoli, a 63-year-old former journalist from Florence, has been an MEP for a decade.

He replaces another Italian politician, conservative Antonio Tajani, who had been president since 2017.

His election means Italy keeps one of its three key European jobs, following the departures of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Mr Sassoli's election to the predominantly ceremonial role followed yesterday's decision by the EU's 28 governments to appoint German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, as European Commission president.

Former French finance minister and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde will become head of the European Central Bank.

In his inaugural speech, Mr Sassoli urged Europeans to counter the "virus" of extreme nationalism and called for a reform of EU rules on migration and political asylum.

He was elected after two rounds of voting, obtaining 345 votes in the 751-member assembly.

Mr Sassoli said negotiations with the UK over Brexit should be carried out with "good sense and a spirit of dialogue and friendship".

"For us it is painful to conceive of London far from Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome," he said.

Parliament's backing is necessary to finalise the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Ms von der Leyen attended a session of the European Parliament this afternoon, the approval of which she needs to take on the job.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has been re-elected as the First Vice-President of the European Parliament.

She secured over 93% of the votes in Strasbourg this evening.

Ms McGuinness said she was deeply honoured to be re-elected.

She said: "I am truly humbled by the size of the support I have received from my colleagues across the Parliament in different political groupings ... Being firm and fair is the hallmark of the way in which I operate and I will continue to do that in this new parliament".