Buttiglione crisis: six days to find a solution

Socialist MEPs have presented Commission president Barroso with a
stiff challenge – to resolve the Buttiglione crisis by 21 October.
EURACTIV outlines the stakes and positions, and the results of all
the commissioner hearings.

The chairmen of the EP political groups met on 13 October to
discuss the results of the European Parliament hearings and in
particular the rejection by two committees of Commissioner
designates Buttiglione and Kovacs(see EURACTIV, 13 October 2004). 

But the groups’ leaders were unable to agree on a common
set of specific requests to present Barroso with
and Parliament President Josep Borrell simply  forwarded
him the evaluation letters drawn up by the EP committee
chairmen. This leaves it  entirely up
to Barroso to find a solution. He has four main
options: do nothing, adjust the content of portfolios,
reshuffle or nominate new candidates. 

On 14 October, the controversial Italian Commissioner designate
for Freedom, Justice and security hinted that he might “give up”
his new job following criticisms on his statement that gays are
sinners. “I have enough faith to give up a job in
the Commission if need be,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today
programme. 

Barroso said on 12 October he had full faith in his
new team of 24 commissioners, including
Buttiglione. Parliamentary sources said Buttiglione could get
the job provided with guarantees that  his traditional views
on homosexuality and marriage do not influence EU
policy. 

EURACTIV has compiled a table with the results of the hearings
of the commissioner designates: 

 

Commissioner designate Portfolio Hearings’ results – Evaluation letters by the
EP committees
Political groups’assessments EURACTIV’s coverage
Rocco Buttiglione  Freedom, Justice and Security 

– Rejection by Committee on


civil liberties, justice and home
affairs

  

 green light by 
legal affairs

 

EPP-ED:      Full confidence in Rocco Buttiglione (12 October 2004)

PES:      Socialists call for clarification following rejection of Buttiglione (11 October 2004)

EP committee rejects Buttiglione(12
October 2004)

Refugees must be better informed on legal
ways to enter EU, says Buttiglione
 (7 October 2004)

László Kovács  Energy Rejection by Committee on  Committee on industry, reasearch and energy

PES:      Commissioner designate Kovács receives socialist support (30 September 2004)

Greens:     Kovacs fehlt Eignung als Energiekommissar  (12 October
2004)

 

MEPs not impressed by László Kovács’
performance
 (7 October 2004)

Ingrida
Udre 

   Taxation and Customs
Union   

Green light with
reservations
 from      Committee on economic and monetary affairs
PES:     Socialists express serious reservations on Udre (7 October
2004)
Socialist MEPs vent anger at Udre and
Buttiglioni 
(6 October 2004)

Mariann
Fischer Boel 

   Agriculture and Rural
Development   

Green light with reservations from
the      Committee on agriculture

PES:     socialists voice grave doubts over farm commissioner (6
October 2004)

Greens:    Overly vague and cautious Fischer Boel fails to impress 
(7 October 2004)


Neelie
Kroes 

Competition
Green light with reservations from
the      Committee on economic and monetary affairs
PES:     socialists accuse Kroes of being vague and evasive (28
Sepetmber 2004)
Kroes: wrongdoing allegations are
“unfounded and nonsensical”
(29 September 2004)

Günter
Verheugen 

Enterprise
and Industry
Green light from      Committee on Industry, research and energy

PES:     Socialists acclaim outstanding presentation from Commissioner designate Verheugen

Greens:    Verheugen finds room for good words on environmental protection  (1 October 2004)

Competitiveness comes before environmental
concerns, says Verheugen undefined

(1 October 2004)


Jacques
Barrot 

Transport
Green light from      Committee on transport  PES:     Green light for transport commissioner (29 Sepetmber 2004 Barrot makes good impression at
hearing
 (1 October 2004)
Margot Wallström Institutional Relations and Communication
Strategy
Green light from      Committee on constitutional affairs

EPP-ED:    Wallström receives strong support of Socialists (30
september 2004)

PES:     Wallström receives strong support of socialist MEPs (30 September 2004)

Siim Kallas  Administrative Affairs, Audit and
Anti-Fraud
Green light from Committee on      budgetary control 

PES:     Socialists to support Kallas: area of responsibility needs clarification (11 October 2004)

Viviane Reding Information Society and Media Green light from      Committee on Industry, research and energy PES:     hearing of commissioner designate Reding: pluralism in media remains prirority for socialists  (29 September 2004)

Stavros
Dimas 

Environment
Green light with reservations
from      Committee on environment

EPP-ED: ‘We need more than just declarations of
intention’ 
(29 September 2004)

Greens:    Greens doubt Dimas’s environmental commitment (29 September
2004)

Dimas lacks experience for top environment
job, say most MEPs 
(5 October 2004)

Joaquín
Almunia

Economic
and Monetary Affairs
Green light from      Committee on economic and monetary affairs PES:     Socialists welcome Almunia’s emphasis on growth  (7
October 2004)

Danuta
Hübner

Regional
Policy
Green light from      Committee on regional development PES:     socialists welcome Hübner commitment to regions  (28
Sepetmber 2004)
Hübner takes tough stance on EU budget and
delocalisation 
(29 september 2004)

Joe
Borg

Fisheries
and Maritime Affairs
Green light from      Committee on fisheries

EPP-ED:     Margie Sudre MdPE, interroge le nouveau Commissaire sur sa politique en faveur des Régions ultrapériphériques 

PES:     Fisheries chief gets a welcome and a warning  (5 October
2004) 


Dalia
Grybauskaité 

Financial
Programming and Budget
Green light from      Committee on budgets

EPP-ED:     Commissioner designate on budget must become more concrete (29 september 2004)

PES:     Best performance so far  (28 Sepetmber 2004)


Janez
Potocnik

Science and
Research
Green light from      Committee on industry, reasearch and energy PES:     support for nomination of Commisisoner designate Potocnik Simplifying access to EU funding is
priority for Potocnik 
(5 October 2004)

Ján
Figel’ 

Education,
Training, Culture and Multilingualism
Green light from      Committee on education adnculture and Committee on employment and social affairs

EPP-ED:     Designated EU commissioner has to understand education and culture as part of Europe’s soul  (28 September 2004)

PES:     We can give the green light to Figel  (28 September
2004)

Figel fully behind efforts to reach Lisbon
Target
 (5 October 2004)

Markos
Kyprianou 

Health and
Consumers Protection
Green light from      Committee on environment , public health and food safety and committee on internal market and consuemer protection PES:     Positive reaction to Kyprianou  (8 October 2004) Incoming health Commissioner takes up fight
against smoking
 (11 October 2004)

Olli
Rehn 

Enlargement
Green light from      Committee on foreign affairs PES:     Future EU enlargement will need pragmatism and vision  (4
October 2004) 
Turkey given a ‘conditional’ green
light 
(5 October 2004)

Louis
Michel 

Development
and Humanitarian Aid
Green light from      Committee on development PES:     Michel receives socialist support   (6 October
2004)

Benita
Ferrero-Waldner 

External
Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Green light from      Committee on Foreign affairs PES:     Not much daylight and a great deal of shadow during Ferrero-Waldner performance at the EP (5 October 2004) Ferrero-Waldner’s ‘charm offensive’
convinces MEPs 
(6 October 2004)

Charlie
McCreevy 

Internal
Market and Services
Green light from      committee on internal market and consumer protection PES:     McCreevy must be more Commission-minded and less Council-minded  (8 October 2004)

Vladimir
Špidla –

Employment,
Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Green light from      Committee on employment and social affairs and      Committee on women’s rights

EPP-ED:     Hearing of Commissioner designate for social affairs Vladimír Špidla: Vague, not very substantial, but acceptable (27
September 2004)

PES:     Green light for social and equal oppourtunities commissioner
(27 September 2004)


Peter
Mandelson 

Trade
Green light from      Committee on trade 

PES:     Euro MPs praise mandelson’s stunning presentation (4 October
2004)

Greens: 

Mandelson risks opening up vast ‘credibility gap’ between promises and delivery

(4 October 2004)

Mandelson breezes through Parliament
hearing
(4 October 2004)

Parliament President Josep Borrell told
journalists that after meeting the political groups' leaders
he was sure that Barroso would take the results of the hearings
into consideration. "The ball is in Barroso's court. We don't want
blood but we do require that our position is respected. If he wants
to put his head in the sand and suppose that he can ignore the
parliament he should not be surprised if MEPs vote down the entire
commission," he said.

The leader of the European Parliament's Socialist
Group, Martin Schulz
, has sharply criticised Commission
President José Manuel Barroso for not communicating directly with
Parliament on the allocation of portfolios within the incoming
Commission.  "Our position regarding Mr Buttiglione is
well-known: his comments on women and gay people make him entirely
unsuited to the role allocated to him by Mr Barroso. You cannot
build a Europe for the 21st century based on 19th century
values. We expect that Mr Barroso will take on board our views
when he meets with Parliamentary leaders next week. A change in
portfolio responsibilities regarding Mr Buttiglione is the absolute
minimum we expect," he said.  Mr Schulz warned, along
with Socialist Vice-Presidents, Jan Marinus Wiersma and Hannes
Swoboda, that if Mr Barroso fails to take action regarding Mr
Buttiglione, "we will propose that the Socialist Group vote against
confirmation of the new Commission."

After the meeting of the groups' chairmen with EP President
Borrell, Monica Frassoni, leader of the European
greens,
 spoke out against a collusion beween the
EPP-ED  the European socialists.  The Greens/EFA Group
regrets that the Presidents of the European Peoples Party, the
Socialists and the Liberals were not willing to support a proposal
from Parliament's President Josep Borrell to explicitly highlight
the problematic cases among the Commissioners designate, including
the cases of Rocco Buttiglione and Laszlo Kovacs. (...) We need to
put Barroso under pressure now but instead we are loosing precious
time.  The leaders of the big groups have demonstrated that
they are unready to take the Committee hearings seriously," she
said.

The new Commission, set up by former Portuguese Prime Minister
Barroso, needs the European Parliament's approval before it
can take up its duties. Between 27 September and 11 October,
each of the 25 Commissioner designates went through a hearing with
the parliamentary committee whose area of competence corresponds to
that particular commissioner's policy area.

  • Commission President Barroso will meet with the presidents
    of the political groups in the EP on 21 October. 
  • The Parliament will vote on 27 October on whether to accept or
    reject the 25-strong commission as a whole. It does not have the
    right to veto individual members. 
  • If approved the new Commission will start its five year
    term of office on 1 November.   

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