EU’s leaders reaffirm confidence in Catholic Italian politician

Incoming European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso reasserted his confidence in his entire team of designated commissioners on Tuesday after the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee rejected Italy’s Rocco Buttiglione, Italian Catholic politician and friend of Pope John Paul II.

“Mr. Barroso maintains his confidence in the whole team, which of course includes Mr. Buttiglione,” Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, a spokeswoman for Barroso’s team said at a news conference.

The committee narrowly rejected the designation of Mr. Buttiglione as justice and security commissioner on account of his Catholic views on homosexuality and marriage, which outraged liberal deputies at a hearing last week, as well as his affirmation that he would not support any legislative proposal contrary to his moral views.

Many lawmakers have said that his views make him unsuitable to be put in charge of legislative proposals to combat discrimination on grounds of gender and sexual orientation.

However, the European Parliament doesn’t have the power to veto individual commissioners; they must accept or reject the entire executive. A vote of confidence will be taken on Mr. Barroso’s entire team on October 27 and the team will take office on November 1.

The conservative European People’s Party leader Hans-Gert Poettering voiced his support for Buttiglione and implicitly warned liberal and left wing nominees not to block him. The European People’s Party is the largest block in the European Parliament.

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