"Perhaps if he were in charge of beetroots..."
Thus spake EU Parliament Chief Josep Borrell about the proposed new EU Commissioner for Justice, Rocco Buttiglione.
For why? Well, largely because he's a traditionalist Italian Catholic (plus friend of both the Pope and the rabidly corrupt Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi), and so buys into various Catholic viewpoints on issues to do with gender and sexuality.
"Rocky" Buttiglione has defended himself moderately logically, by stating plainly that "I may think that homosexuality is a sin but this has no effect on politics, unless I say that homosexuality is a crime".
It has to be said, though, having someone in charge of justice whose personal morality doesn't tally with that of the state could well cause problems. As Borrell told Radio 1 Europe, "It does not seem to me that in this day and age, we can have people in charge of justice - especially of justice - who think that".
It's the old problem which has haunted Europe for centuries - the split in loyalty between Church and State. Buttiglione can't be forced to abandon his religious views, but equally there is thankfully now a majority who likewise feel that those who feel homosexuality is a sin cannot be allowed to force their own views on others. Appointing a justice chief who thinks homosexuality is a sin, when the laws of the EU state clearly that it is legal, will inevitably create a crisis of conscience for the chap.
As such, it's yet another rather silly move, and has been met with opposition from across the left, with Dutch Green party MEP Cathalijne Buitenweg summing up the basic dilemma, "After he has judged homosexuality as immoral, how can I trust this man to protect homosexuals against discrimination?" The Party of European Socialists later issued a statement declaring "The Socialist Group is united in thinking that this man is not the best person to be put in charge of defending human rights, civil liberties and the EU’s anti-discrimination laws."
So, after the problems with Neelie Kroes and Peter Mandelson, one has to wonder - are EU states DELIBERATELY appointing dodgy candidates to the Commission, and are they DELIBERATELY being appointed to the least appropriate positions? Is this an attempt to sabotage the existing EU system, or just the usual incompetence?