Richard North, 11/10/2004  

Rocco Buttiglione, the incoming Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, is in trouble again. His investiture hearing consisted of two parts – he was interrogated by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on Tuesday and by the Committee on Legal Affairs on Wednesday.

The second one of these seems to have gone fine but in the first session, Signor Buttiglione slipped up. He expressed the view that, as a staunch Catholic, he considers homosexuality to be a sin, hastening to add that he was not advocating that it be made illegal. There are many sins, such as accidie and gluttony, not to mention lust, that are not illegal. Similarly, there are many, too many, “crimes” such as parking offences, that are not sins in the theological sense. And that, you might think, would be that.

However, this view together with Buttiglione’s opinion on women’s place in society (somewhat similar, one gathers, to UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom’s, though perhaps more elegantly expressed) has damned him in the eyes of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

They recommended that Buttiglione be rejected by the plenary session of the European Parliament that will meet this week. Unfortunately, this is not only not binding as the BBC World Service website explained, it is completely pointless. The European Parliament cannot reject one commissioner. It is all or none. Even if they were all incensed by Signor Buttiglione’s opinions (which they will not be as some will be in agreement) they could do nothing about it as all the other commissioners passed with flying colours, having expressed all the correct opinions.

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