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Europe

Rome Ditches Current EU Commissioner

Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi has nominated the centrist European Affairs Minister Rocco Buttiglione for the next European Commission instead of current Commissioner Mario Monti.

The next European Commission President, Jose Barroso, is said to have given his approval to the nomination of centrist European Affairs Minister Rocco Buttiglione instead of current Commissioner Mario Monti. However, Berlusconi's choice is being seen by the opposition as an attempt by the prime minister to hold together his fractured coalition, after recent clashes with the centrist Union of the Christian Democrats UDC. The UDC has been pushing for more influence in the coalition after doing well in the recent European elections, and has been objecting to a bill supported by the right-wing Lega Nord that gives more self-rule to the country's prosperous northern regions. "[This] gesture has important political significance and it's a gesture of great generosity on the part of the prime minister, one that warrants attention," Buttiglione told reporters in Rome. Current Italian Commissioner Mario Monti, who is well respected in Brussels, had turned down a recent offer to become Italy's finance minister to remain in Brussels. The Financial Times said Barroso would have given Monti a high-profile portfolio but it is seen as unlikely that Buttiglione will get such a brief. (EUobserver.com)

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