Italian government sticks with Buttiglione

28.10.04 @ 09:55

  1. By Lisbeth Kirk
  2. Lisbeth email

The crisis over the nomination of a new EU Commission is deepening as the Italian government has signalled an unwillingness to change its candidate Rocco Buttiglione, making an easy solution to the current situation unlikely.

  • All eyes on Rome (Photo: EUobserver.com)

"Italy is maintaining Rocco Buttiglione", Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini was quoted as saying by ANSA news agency.

On Wednesday (28 October) the incoming head of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, was forced to postpone a vote of approval in the European Parliament on his first line-up of new Commissioners.

This has not happened before in the history of the EU and a solution to the crisis is not foreseen in the EU treaties.

All eyes now shift to Rome, where EU heads of state and government are gathering on Friday (29 October) to sign the European Constitution, where the ceremonial impact of the event risks being lost in the political wheeler-dealing.

Decisions are expected at a summit next week in Brussels (5 November).

Sweeping changes

Mr Barroso is under pressure to make more sweeping changes to get his team approved.

"Obviously it [the Commission] will have some changes, there will be alterations which are necessary and sufficient, not more not less", the EU’s incoming president Mr Barroso diplomatically told Portuguese journalists last night.

"There are three or four commissioners who did not have the support of the parliament. We need a somewhat broader change", Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said without giving names, according to Reuters.

"The position of my group was to vote against Mr Buttiglione as justice and home affairs commissioner, but in favour of Mr Buttiglione as commissioner", the leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament Graham Watson told reporters.

"However, to be honest, I think it would be at least politically unwise for Mr Barroso to come back with a commission with Mr Buttiglione in it", he added, according to Deutsche Welle.

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