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Europe

European Press Review: EU Showdown

The prospect of the powerful European Commission being sunk even before it has been launched gave European editorial writers plenty of food for thought on Friday.

In Italy, Buttiglione's home country, La Repubblica believes that resignation is only dignified gesture open to him -- for his own sake, for the sake of his country and for the sake of the Commission which now risks rejection in parliament on his account. His stubbornness is leading to a head-on collision between European institutions -- a collision whose outcome is uncertain, apart from the fact that it will do Italy no good whatsoever.

In Belgium De Morgen said if the Barroso Commission is approved by parliament, which is still possible in spite of all the growling, then we will have proof that Europe is not preoccupied with European ideals, but with national interests. Let us not fool ourselves. German Social Democrats are not going to vote down a Commission in which fellow countryman and party member Günter Verheugen has a key position. The British have probably received instructions to vote for Blair's close ally Peter Mandelson and many Belgium liberals will hardly dare to mess things up for Louis Michel. But for years, the Belgium paper continued, the European parliament has grumbled that it is not taken seriously. On Wednesday it will a have first class opportunity to prove its worth. If it fails to muster the courage, then MEPs won't have to bother to grumble anymore about being members of a pseudo-parliament.

The Tages Anzeiger in Switzerland said MEPs may not like the last-minute minor changes to the Commission Barroso is proposing, but they should not the less give it their blessing. A divided Europe without leadership, the paper maintained, is in nobody's interest.

The French paper Liberation believes the Vatican is fighting a dangerous rearguard action in a bid to wield influence in Europe. Barroso has made a grave mistake in insisting on Buttiglione as justice commissioner. In this context, it is important to highlight the temporal character of European democracy -- as a means of fending off all fundamentalists claiming superiority of moral laws over the rights of others. It is vitally important for Europe's survival, the French paper said, that religion -- whether the Catholic faith or any other -- remains contained within the church and a matter solely for individual conscience.

The German paper Die Welt believes that they can only be losers in the dispute between the European Parliament and the Commission. The biggest loser the paper said will be the European parliament. Frustrated by limitations on its
influence, it has started a power struggle with the Commission, which is not only about Buttiglione. But it cannot win. There will be a majority for Barroso and parliament will have made itself look ridiculous once again.