The new European Commission started work today – finally. They were supposed to start work on November 1, but got held up by one Rocco Buttiglioni, the Italian Commission candidate who was supposed to get the Justice and Home Affairs portfolio. In nomination hearings before a European Parliament committee, Buttiglione was not shy in setting forth his personal value-system in which homosexuals are sinners and women encouraged to stay home and care for the children. Those sorts of sentiments just won’t do for the EU of the 21st century, to the extent that if the Parliament had no other choice but to reject the entire new Commission proposed by Commission President Jose Manual Barroso in order to keep Buttiglione from taking his place within it – and, the way the EU’s rules now stand, it didn’t – then fine, they were willing to reject the entire new Commission. Barroso pulled back from this brink and managed to get rid of Buttiglioni and find another Italian much more to everyone’s liking.
The new token Italian – but Italians, don’t get offended: every one of the 25 member-states gets a “token” of its own on the Commission – turned out to be a very safe choice, namely Franco Frattini, or the Italian government official who is supposed to be most congenial to foreigners, that is, the foreign minister. (more…)