Following a row over his conservative comments on homosexuality and marriage, Italy’s controversial candidate for the EU executive has said he is set to withdraw.
“I am ready to stand aside to smooth the way for Barroso’s Commission,” Rocco Buttiglione told reporters in a news conference. He added that he wished the executive every success. He had planned to take on the Commission’s justice and security portfolio but ran into fierce opposition in the European Parliament after saying homosexuality was a sin and that marriage was for women to have children. It led to fears that incoming Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s whole line-up would be rejected and, to avoid this, he withdrew his team ahead of an investiture vote on Wednesday. Yesterday, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi indicated he was prepared to replace Buttiglione. It came after an historic ceremony at which leaders signed the EU’s first ever constitution.