Parliament Committee rejects Italian Commissioner
By Honor Mahony
MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee in the European Parliament have rejected Italy's proposed new Commissioner - just weeks before he is due to take up his job.
In a vote on Monday (11 October), Rocco Buttiglione was voted down by MEPs - the first time a Commission nominee has ever been fully rejected by a committee.
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Mr Buttiglione fell foul of the Euro-deputies following his comments, during his Parliament audition last week, on gays and his traditional views on the role of women in society.
Berlusconi: \"crude propaganda\"
A compromise solution suggesting that the conservative politician be kept in the Commission but be given a different portfolio was rejected by a majority.
Reacting to the vote, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlsuconi accused Italian left MEPs of waging "crude propaganda" and said the vote marked a "dreadful start" to the European Parliament.
The Committee will make its recommendation to reject Mr Buttiglione to the president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, on Tuesday.
However, a final decision has to be taken later this week by the different political groups.
Some MEPs are already wondering if there will be a knock-on effect - making power politics between the different political families come into play.
It is thought that Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs, a socialist who is to be in charge in energy, could be targeted by conservatives.
"I realise this is politics but it would be a shame if, merely because of politics, good people get in trouble in the confirmations simply because of a knock on effect", the Civil Liberties Committee vice-president, Greek Socialist Stavros Lambrinidis, told EUobserver.
The political group leaders are due to meet incoming Commission president José Manuel Durão Barroso next week to put their views to him.
Mr Barroso is not under any legal obligation to change his team and MEPs, when they vote in two weeks time, can only vote to reject the whole Commission en masse and not just one person from the team.
"In theory, on the basis of this recommendation, Mr Barroso can think about the composition of his Commission - nothing more than that", said Mr Lambrinidis.
To make matters a little cloudier still, Mr Buttiglione was accepted by the Legal Affairs Committee - which also gave him a separate hearing last week.