A difficult time for European Commission President-designate Jose Manuel Barroso. Today, in front of senior MEPs, he is due to defend his commission line-up, including Italy’s controversial choice of commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security. Rocco Buttiglione has been criticised for his anti-homosexual views and traditional beliefs.
Barroso was questioned on the issue yesterday in Warsaw. He said: “I’m optimistic that a balanced solution will be found and I’m optimistic and confident that my commission will get the support of the Parliament, as I got the support of European Parliament when I was confirmed some time ago.”
MEPs have a final vote on the entire commission line-up next Wednesday. In Rome yesterday Buttiglione was clearly feeling the strain. He refused to respond to journalists questions about whether he would accept a diminished portfolio from Barroso.
“Which language are you speaking? Do you suppose that I speak English?” Buttiglione said in perfect English. “Which reasons have you to make this supposition – in this moment whatever I say runs the risk of being misinterpreted,” he said with a strained smile on his face.
Asked why this was the case, Buttiglione, pushing away the microphone, replied “It might depend in part on what we might call ethics of journalism.” Socialists in the European Parliament are threatening to vote against the commission line-up next week, if Buttiglione is not removed from the justice and security post. That will be food for thought for Jose Manuel Barroso.