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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Should Buttiglione be replaced?
European Union Commissioner-designate for Justice Rocco Buttiglione, left, poses with EU Commission President-designate Jose Manuel Barroso
The incoming president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has admitted that he will have to change his team of commissioners following opposition in the European Parliament.

Rather than face a veto to the crucial vote he said necessary changes must be made.

Barroso faced a looming defeat after he refused to replace the controversial Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione who's conservative views on homosexuality and marriage offended many lawmakers.

What do you think about the delay of the vote? Should Mr Buttiglione be replaced? Has the EU averted an institutional crisis?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

No reason for a reshuffle. In democracy one has to respect the opinions of others. A replacement of the nominee it would lead in the future for eliminations for other reasons. That would mean a giant step backwards for what the EU is trying to accomplish.
Carlos, USA, Sacramento, CA-USA

Political quagmires like this makes Norwegians think twice before having another referendum to join the EU.
Koenraad de Smedt, Bergen, Norway

I for one will be glad when we are finally out of this EU mess. Buttiglione is but one example of those with views that do nothing except to annoy any level headed citizen. One might question how he became a member in the first place.
John Stephens, Hastings, England

Not only because of his comments, but also because of his past deeds, Rocco Buttiglione is hardly the man to handle Justice and Law matters, if any. Maybe it's possible to place him somewhere else in the Commission, but I'm not sure.
Glenn Frère, Brussels Belgium

It shows the EU's growing strength and political maturity
Erik G., Aarhus, Denmark
The Buttiglione case isn't a crisis, it's a celebration of democracy! It shows the EU's growing strength and political maturity. What an interesting contrast to the other global power, the USA, who seems do be in a process of dying a slow death of suffocation due to a lack of democracy and strong, honest political leadership.
Erik G., Aarhus, Denmark

So this is most newsworthy thing the European Parliament has done all year? The personal views of one man are more important the huge unemployment, pathetic growth, big spending deficits and unreformed economies? They are all like student politicians.
James, London, UK

Buttiglione's views are not about an issue of free speech. How can the EU have as its so-called "justice" commissioner a person who through his own statements has shown himself to be prejudiced and unsuitable? His appointment would be totally unacceptable.
John Clayton, Birmingham

Of course Mr Barroso should keep Mr Buttiglione on his team. Mr Buttiglione has as much right to his views on homosexuality and the role of women vis-a-vis marriage, as they have to theirs. The anti-Catholic agenda and machinations of these people must not be allowed to dominate or to intimidate the validly selected European team of Commissioners. It will be a shame and a disgrace if the European Parliament does not confirm the Commission - including Mr Buttiglione - proposed by the European Chief Commissioner, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso.
John McCann, Belfast Northern Ireland

The socialist grouping in the European parliament's attempt to remove Mr Buttiglione reminds me of a politburo purge to eliminate dissent of the liberal/ socialist/communist agenda. The agents of atheism are on the march in Brussels and Strasbourg once again. Discrimination works both ways. Mr Buttiglione is being discriminated against, because he holds alternative beliefs. The hypocrisy of the liberal agenda against discrimination has been exposed. Anti Catholicism is their real motive.
Simon, Cork, Ireland

I am frankly astonished at the number of comments here about how Buttiglione's ultimate rejection was some kind of "left-wing conspiracy" trying to "bring down democracy". At the end of the day, the EU is meant to stand up for human rights and equality for all. Mr. Buttiglione clearly did not agree that gays and women were on an equal standing with heterosexual males, hence he was not considered suitable for the job by the people we elected. They put pressure on Mr. Barroso because of this. So I'd say a success all round.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany

The problem with Buttiglione's nomination to that particular post is that as Commissioner he would be required to actively promote measures that counter discrimination. Completely apart from all the in-fighting and the desire to bring embarrassment on the head of Berlusconi, which are certainly part of this equation, Buttiglione's personal views do seem very likely to get in the way of his performing his duties properly.
D Bathgate, Florence, Italy

Politicians should think before they speak
Franz Cermak, Brussels

Politicians should think before they speak, these are the rules. While honesty is certainly appreciated, it is not sufficient: Should somebody, who openly supports corporal punishment in schools, become minister of education?
Franz Cermak, Brussels

Not only because of his comments, but also because of his past deeds, Rocco Buttiglione is hardly the man to handle justice and law matters, if any. Maybe it's possible to place him somewhere else in the Commission, but I'm not sure.
Glenn Frère, Brussels, Belgium

A lot of people are saying that the reaction to Buttiglione is a sign of a failing democracy. How can that make sense? Democracy works by a majority opinion making headway in politics. If the majority of people don't like Buttiglione's views (which would appear to be the case) then he shouldn't have the post. His right to express his opinion is not being quelled here. His right to exercise it against the wishes of the majority in a position of power, on the other hand, should be.
Stuart, Turku, Finland

Of course he should go... The man is obviously a bigot and has no right to the position as he would not be capable of an unbiased decision
Boyd Walters, London UK

Yes, loud and clear. There is not room in Europe for such views. Better still send him to the US and Bush can appoint him to the supreme court.
El Said, Geneva, Switzerland

As an Italian citizen, and unmarried father of two children, I feel deeply ashamed of the statements of Mr Buttiglione; nevertheless I think that his opinions about Kyoto Protocol, of which no media takes account, should be regarded as much more worrying!
Luigi Ronco, Torino, Italy

It is a sad day when the private views of an individual are used to discriminate against him
Chris Lenton, Marlow, England
It is a sad day when the private views of an individual, views incidentally held by a great many people, are used to positively discriminate against him. Barroso should have pushed for the vote and exposed the hypocrisy of these MEPS. Incidents like this only go to underpin our utter distaste of the EU and its institutions. I pray for the day when we are free from this whole obsequious sorry mess which is the EU.
Chris Lenton, Marlow, England

What this boils down to is "should the tolerant tolerate the intolerant?" I'm afraid the answer to that has to be a clear no and the European Parliament is right to vote against Mr Buttiglione's appointment. Would you appoint a white supremacist to the position of Commissioner for Racial Equality on the grounds that we live in a democracy and people are therefore entitle to their views? I think not.
Gary, Henley-on-Thames

Of course Mr. Buttiglione has the right to free speech and no-one is denying him this right. What is being discussed is what kind of Commissioners that Europe wants and needs and sexist, homophobic people are not wanted or indeed needed.
Alex, Brussels

Well done to the European Parliament for standing its ground on this one. It's about time the democratic deficit was addressed by someone in Europe. Why should a bunch of unelected, second rate or failed national politicians be foisted upon the European public at the whim of national leaders? If we can't directly elect our European Commissioners and EC President for that matter, give me a bloody minded EU parliament any day. Long live democracy!
Dean Fell, Cambridge, England

Mr Buttiglione should know as a public servant to keep personal views to himself; he failed & should accept the consequences. Mr Barroso should remember that the commission is there to represent the EU and thus the citizens of the EU; this is not the board of a small company or a private club. In light of this, the EU should change the rules & allow commissioners to be assessed individually.
Alan, Riga, Latvia

If the EU Parliament thinks he is not the right one for the job, then he should be replaced
Dirk, Düsseldorf
The EU Parliament is elected by the people of Europe. Mr Buttiglione was appointed by the Italian government. If the EU Parliament thinks he is not the right one for the job, then he should be replaced. That is a normal process in a democracy.
Dirk, Düsseldorf

The only thing that matters here is whether he can uphold his position as Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs and thus enforce equal rights for ALL EU citizens. What is not clear to me and the majority of MEPs is how somebody can stand for justice while holding the view that (1) women belong in the kitchen, and (2) categorises gays as sinful creatures. Nobody would care about his views if he wasn't nominated for the justice portfolio.
John, Paris, France

The European Parliament is the only directly elected institution of the EU - its opinion is therefore important. People are always carping that the EU is not democratic enough, here is an expression of its democratic voice - so let's respect what our elected representatives decide. In my view, the crisis could have been avoided by making a simple change - allow the Parliament to reject individual commissioners. The status quo, where Parliament is forced to approve or throw out the entire Commission is absolutely crazy and a recipe for future conflict between the EU institutions.
Nick Fraser, Jordan

Mr Barroso had no choice but to accept him in his team
Mario Micheli, Italy/USA
For those of us who know Mr Buttiglione (he's been in Italian politics for years), his disgraceful remarks on homosexuals and women are, alas, not surprising. The mistake that caused all this mess is the nomination of Mr Buttiglione by Mr Berlusconi, who chose him (instead of well-respected Mr Monti) in order to appease an Italian government coalition partner. Such moves are typical of the Byzantine politics of Italy. Mr Barroso had no choice but to accept him in his team. The only way out is the replacement of Mr Buttiglione with someone who can enjoy greater support, both in Italy and in Europe.
Mario Micheli, Italy/USA

The EU may have postponed the problem, but this is only a European foretaste of the schism raging in the US; secular aka liberal views versus religious aka conservative. No wonder there's such hair-tearing at the thought of Turkey joining the EU.
Adam, London, UK

All politicians have personal points of view that don't hinder or compromise their capability to act as team players or members of cabinets, parties or governments. So-called free votes or conscience votes allow politicians anonymity to "vote" in "their own" way. This guy is a breath of fresh air who has stated his opinions but can reconcile opinion with obligation and get on with the job at hand. Why do certain sectors of thought need to vilify him to promote their own agendas?
BC, Newport, UK

Why do we need Commissioners in the first place? Surely it would be better to leave the running of Europe to the European Parliament. After all, we get a chance to elect them.
Adam, London, UK

Let us keep religion out of politics
D'Hooghe René, Belgium

Barroso should have known very early that Buttiglione was a man of extreme convictions and never have presented him for the job. Was Barroso also influenced by the extreme right? Let us keep religion out of politics.
D'Hooghe René, Vielsalm, Belgium

If it is right that Buttiglione is unacceptable for his views on homosexuality, then openly gay candidates should be disqualified too.
Stef, Dunstable, Beds

It is about time we had some real democracy in the EU, with commissioners elected by the MEPs. The concerns about the unelected, unrepresentative nature of many EU institutions will not disappear otherwise. We need accountability and transparency.
Helen, London

Barroso made mistakes, and he should resolve it
Piet Boon, Amsterdam

President Barroso says that "changing the Commission at this stage" leads to "more problems". Well that is exactly the problem and that is why he should be given the thumbs down. He did not react in time with good decisions when the first signs of a problem with Commissioner Buttiglione appeared. Instead a temporarily face saving change was made (Buttiglione's face that is). Barroso made mistakes, and he should resolve it.
Piet Boon, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What difference does it make who is in the commission and what views they may hold? At the end of the day they still have no accountability to anybody. The parliament is just a talking shop.
Kieran, England

Signor Buttiglione's opinions are not just his own, they are shared by a substantial fraction of the population of southern Europe - and a significant number of northern Europeans too. You may not agree with these opinions, but why should these people be denied a representative in the European parliament? If we do not agree with policies he puts forward, we have elected representatives of our own to make the argument for us.
Adrian Hilton, Bath, Wilts

He is the one who is forcing the vote that may reject the entire commission
Andrew, Toronto, Canada

If Mr Barroso refuses to replace Mr Buttiglione, then he is the one who is forcing the vote that may reject the entire commission. Mr Buttiglione is entitled to his opinion, but the EU should not have its justice and civil liberties portfolio held by someone with such unbending views. As a gay man, I certainly would not trust my rights to be protected by a bigot such as him if I were a citizen of Europe.
Andrew, Toronto, Canada

Rocco Buttiglione is not the right man to uphold civil liberties. He has shown bigotry and narrow-mindedness. He has also shown that he doesn't care about seeing two (or more) sides to every problem. If he is accepted, one might wonder what his opponents have been offered in return for not ousting him.
Mary, Modena, Italy

I think he should replace Tony Blair in No.10 - it's refreshing to hear someone actually say what they believe and not just what the people want to hear. Our country is in a mess, partly due to lack of morality.
Dave, Devon

There should be no reshuffle because of Mr Buttiglione's comment about homosexuals and woman. Homosexuals cannot nurture the male and female side of any child if they are the same sex and as for single mothers, it is true, widows and single mothers do need male help with their children, otherwise without male discipline children especially boys, get away from the right path in life. In my opinion the comment was personal, and even though personal, was a moral and measured view, which lots of people accept.
Teresa, Berkshire

What is in the pipeline that benefits from this delay?
Elisabeth Eskola, Scotland

I am wondering here in the Scottish Borders who benefits from Mr Barroso's inaction in this matter. I assume that the work of the parliament will practically come to a stand still while the matter of the new commissioners is solved and that Mr Barroso is well aware of that as is Mr Buttiglione. Had they wanted the work and the handover to go smoothly either of them would have had the power to ensure that, however they did not choose to do that. Why? What is in the pipeline that benefits from this delay? Who does it benefit?
Elisabeth Eskola, Galashiels, Selkirkshire, Scotland

Commissioners are appointed not elected. Parliament is made up of elected representatives. Parliament must decide and this decision should be based on what is acceptable to all European people irrespective of race or religion While I agree with some of Buttiglione's views I personally feel he should not be appointed as he has expressed a view which is extremely narrow and not necessarily shared by the majority.
Ian Terry, Baku, Azerbaijan

From what is known of his views on homosexuality and marriage it is better not to entrust Buttiglione with a civil rights and justice department position.
Bernard Boone, Gleuven, Belgium

As long as Mr Buttiglione sticks to the law he is entitled to think and say what he wants
Gus Swan, London, UK

I am happy, openly gay man but I am deeply worried about this prevailing view that only certain acceptable positions are worthy of political representation. Acceptable to whom? This is not democracy, which by its nature involves diversity and disagreement! Despite disagreeing with Mr Buttiglione's views on homosexuality I think it outrageous that the liberal-left is now the self-appointed filter of who has the right to hold political office. As long as Mr Buttiglione sticks to the law he is entitled to think and say what he wants. This is the thin edge of a very dangerous wedge that could have our parliamentary candidates controlled and vetted by moral authorities in the way they are in Iran. The European commission and parliament must allow all views of the EU population, secular and religious, minority or majority to be represented.
Gus Swan, London, UK

No. Free speech is not banned. But Mr Buttiglione's views on single mothers and gay people are offensive to many (if not most) people in Europe these days. More importantly than this, he was a member of a cabinet which passed retroactive criminal legislation which prevented his prime minister from standing criminal trial for fraudulent accounting. This is what makes Rocco Buttiglione unsuitable for the justice portfolio.
Fred Adelmann, Basel, Switzerland

It's a great pity it has come to this. Mr Buttiglione may be unbearably sanctimonious but his views on homosexuality, sin, single sex marriages and the family have no bearing on his ability to do the immigration job. This is going to make defending the EU against our own Catholic fundamentalists all the more difficult as they are always telling us EU supporters that the EU will impose its moral norms on member states and we tell them - no way - moral norms are not an EU competence but here we see the EP going to wire on just such an issue. Couldn't the parliament have chosen an issue which was more relevant to the functioning of the union rather than choosing to have a confrontation on sexual mores.
Krzysztof Bobinski, Warsaw, Poland

One form of discrimination is traded for another which is just as evil. The freedom to express one's religious views without massive discrimination is all but gone. Sadly, Europe continues to deteriorate into an oligarchy of left-wing '68-generation liberals. Democracy is so indirect that it plays almost no role in a continent where many normal citizens remain uninformed about or ambivalent to weighty matters. And, as if that were not bad enough, a new constitution is being imposed on citizens without their direct consent, weakening a country's sovereign rights to act in the interest of its own citizens. Europe, wake up!
Ben, Chicago, IL

Mr Buttiglione should not be replaced. The Commission President designate should not give way to Socialist extremism. One is left to conclude from this political conflict that it would be acceptable if a Commissioner was a former communist who for sexual diversion engaged in sodomy. But to many millions of European citizens the views of Mr Buttiglione are perfectly acceptable and indeed regarded as normal.
R Fairless, Morpeth, England




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: EU team a hard sell
21 Oct 04  |  Europe
Profile: Rocco Buttiglione
21 Oct 04  |  Europe


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