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Europe

European Press Review: A Brewing Crisis

European newspapers on Wednesday focused on controversial designated EU commissioner Rocco Buttiglione, who has sparked an uproar with his strong views on homosexuality and the role of women.

The Guardian in London commented that Jose Manuel Barroso, president-designate of the European Commission has a crisis on his hands. The controversy over one of his key appointments, Italy’s Rocco Buttiglione, is threatening to overshadow the start of the new commission team next month. The problem is simple, the paper wrote. Mr Buttiglione has said publicly that he believes homosexuality is a sin. Since he has been chosen as the Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Liberty, it’s hardly surprising that he has been rejected by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, the paper said. It concluded that Mr Buttiglione should not take up this important post when his views run counter to those of millions of European citizens.

Spanish conservative paper ABC criticized Buttiglione for the clumsy manner in which he stated his moral ideas. This affair, the paper wrote, could snowball into an all-out political battle. But it could also turn out to be nothing more than a storm in a teacup. However, the paper warned, the affair does highlight the difficult position of European Commission president José Manuel Barroso.

Die Presse in Vienna on a more philosophical note wrote that the Buttiglione affair symbolizes the social problem of the relationship between morals and the state. His inclusion in the commission reflects the reality of the political spectrum faced by the 25 member states, according to the paper. It wrote that in all probability the European parliament will abandon its resistance to the Italian. If it wanted, it could reject the entire new commission under Jose Barroso. But this, the paper cautioned, would inflict a new crisis on the European Union. If the decision were to be taken to separate politics and religion entirely, then Buttligione would have to be dismissed the first time he tried to turn his religious and moral convictions into EU policy, the daily concluded.

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau wrote that the conservative Catholic has the right to think what he wants but his convictions should not be reflected in his political work. Buttiglione’s views are inappropriate as a guide for modern Europe, it wrote. However, the majority of EU governments and their parliaments are conservative and so is the European parliament, the daily reminded. Thus the parliament can be expected to confirm Barroso's Commission at the end of the month, it predicted.

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