ROME, October 27, 2004 ( – The Italian government is retaining Rocco Buttiglione to represent Italy on the European Commission despite Commission president Barroso’s cave-in to Buttiglione’s opponents by postponing today’s scheduled vote on the new appointees. “Italy is maintaining Rocco Buttiglione,” said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to reporters in Rome today.

Buttiglione’s comments about the sinfulness of homosexuality and the nature of marriage have aroused a storm of protest from the powerful socialist bloc in the European Parliament. Buttiglione was the choice of Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and has filled the post of Italian European Affairs minister since 2001.  Last week, reported that European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso was not planning on removing the Italian candidate for justice and civil rights commissioner. Since then the group opposing the choice has increased pressure to have Buttiglione removed from Barroso’s list of commissioners. The MEP’s do not vote on the candidates individually and can only ratify the whole group.

This morning, Barroso announced to the Parliament that he would not be submitting his team for approval and would be holding new consultations with EU leaders and MEPs. He said, “These last days have demonstrated that the European Union is a strong political construction and that this Parliament, elected by popular vote across all our member states, has indeed a vital role to play in the governance of Europe.”  Now that the Italian government has chosen to stand with its candidate, it is not known what options are open to Mr. Barroso. Under the EU Treaty the new commission is supposed to take office on November 1 after approval by the European Parliament but, with Mr Barroso now not submitting his team for approval, the next step is obscure.

The standoff is being called, “political virgin territory” by the European Parliament’s president, Josep Borrell. It is expected that Barroso will reshuffle his commission and it is not certain that he will retain Buttiglione in any position.  DW – World.De coverage:,1564,1378456,00.html   Ph


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