The leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups have not reached a common position on what to do about Italy’s candidate for EU justice and security commissioner.
The unprecedented rejection by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday of Rocco Buttiglione because of his outspoken conservative views on homosexuality and marriage leaves the incoming Commission President José Manuel Barroso in a tight spot. The head of the parliament’s socialist group disapproved that Barroso had reaffirmed his confidence in Buttiglione. Martin Schulz said: “If he’s going to go on like that, he’s in for some unpleasant experiences. My advice to him is ‘let’s be a little more serious’”. EPP conservative head Hans-Gert Pöttering added to the suspense: “It is now the president of the Commission José Manuel Durao Barroso who has to see the letters of the committees. It is now his responsibility to give his answer.” The Parliament’s president, Josep Borrel, was asked for comment on a slur made by a minister in the Berlusconi government; Mirko Tremaglia, unhappy about the rejection of Buttiglione, had said: “Poor Europe — the ‘culattoni’ (which loosely translates as ‘bum boys’) are in the majority”. It was the first Borrel had heard of it. He termed the remark ‘inappropriate’. Barroso is to meet with Parliament representatives on October 1, six days before the assembly’s vote on the full Commission; It can not veto individual nominees. Insiders say Barroso could keep Buttiglione in charge of justice if the Commission president promises not to let the Italian’s views encroach on EU non-discrimination policy.