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Incoming EU chief considers reassigning Buttiglione

Incoming EU chief considers reassigning Buttiglione

Jose Manuel Barroso, incoming president of the European Commission, an administrative panel for the European Union, is considering giving Italy's Rocco Buttiglione, who is to be the next justice commissioner for the EU, another job or changing his job description because of his controversial remarks, an EU lawmaker said Tuesday after meeting with Barroso. During his confirmation hearings two weeks ago, Buttiglione called homosexuality a sin and said marriage is intended "to allow women to have children and to have [the] protection of a male." The European Socialists as well as the European Liberal Democrats are demanding that Buttiglione either get a different job or that his job as justice affairs commissioner be stripped of responsibilities for civil liberties and antidiscrimination matters. Martin Schulz, leader of the 200-strong Socialist group in the European parliament, said Barroso was working on a compromise to ensure that the EU assembly endorses his entire 24-member executive council. Socialists and Liberal Democrats are threatening to veto Barroso's team after the remarks by Buttiglione about gays and marriage in his confirmation hearing before the parliament's justice committee. "It's my impression that he is considering that issue," Schulz told reporters after a one-hour meeting with Barroso at EU headquarters. "I said to Mr. Barroso that the declarations of Mr. Buttiglione were not acceptable." Barroso is to meet with European Parliament president Josep Borrell and the assembly's eight political leaders on Thursday to try to resolve the crisis. His spokeswoman, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, said the incoming EU chief also held "constructive" talks with Hans-Gert Poettering, leader of the center-right European People's Party, and Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats. The parliament will vote October 27 on whether to approve the entire 24-member EU executive council. A negative vote would create an unprecedented crisis in the EU, leaving the 25-nation bloc without a presiding executive office to run it. It remains unclear if Barroso can muster enough votes to get the simple majority needed in the 732-member chamber to approve the commission.

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