[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
EU row candidate stands down
Rocco Buttiglione
Buttiglione caused outrage when he suggested homosexuality was a sin
Italy's controversial European Commission nominee, Rocco Buttiglione, has said he is standing down as commissioner-designate.

"I am ready to stand aside to smooth the way for (the) commission," he said.

Mr Buttiglione faced opposition from the European Parliament over his views on homosexuality and women.

The incoming Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, earlier withdrew his proposed list of commissioners because of the dispute.


MEPs had threatened to veto the proposed commission if Mr Buttiglione stayed.

The EU parliament can only approve nominations for the 25-seat executive Commission as a whole.

Reading from a statement, Mr Buttiglione said he wished the Barroso commission every success because Europe needed a strong commission.

'Innocent victim'

His voice shaking with emotion, Mr Buttiglione said "I'm an innocent victim of an orchestrated campaign".

He said his views about gays had been misquoted, and he criticised the press for superficial coverage.

"I am not an adversary to human rights, I am a champion of them," he said.

He went on to thank Mr Barroso for having "defended me as much as possible".

The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said on Friday that Mr Buttiglione would most likely be replaced as Italy's nominee to the new commission.

I am an innocent victim of an orchestrated campaign
Rocco Buttiglione

The two men met to discuss the issue on Friday night.

Mr Buttiglione, a close friend of Pope John Paul II, will remain a minister in the Berlusconi government.

The BBC's chief political correspondent Guto Harri in Rome says there has been speculation that Foreign Minister Franco Frattini will be appointed to take on the job.

Mario Monti, a former Italian EU Commissioner, has also been frequently mentioned as a replacement and would be a popular choice, our correspondent says.

The issue of Mr Buttiglione's appointment to the commission overshadowed the signing of the EU constitution, in a lavish ceremony in Rome on Friday.

As the event progressed, Mr Barroso held hurried talks with EU leaders to seek support for his planned changes to the commission.

See Rocco Buttiglione announce his withdrawal

Sunday Mirror Anti-gay Eu Boss Resigns - 25 hrs ago
MSNBC Religion: The New Crusade - 31 hrs ago
Washington PostItalian Minister Withdraws as Candidate for E.U. Commission - 31 hrs ago
TelegraphButtiglione bows out to resolve EU crisis - 35 hrs ago
New York Times Italy to Withdraw Nominee for Europe Panel - 36 hrs ago
* Requires registration
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific