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Anti-gay Catholic's nomination forced down by Euro MPs

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A vote to approve the new European Commission has been delayed after the incoming president withdrew his proposed line-up of commissioners.


Jose Manuel Barroso said more time was needed to choose a Commission that the European Parliament would approve.


MEPs had threatened to veto the new Commission over the inclusion of Rocco Buttiglione, who has expressed controversial views on gays and women. Mr Buttiglione had been chosen as justice and home affairs commissioner.


The new Commission had been due to start work on 1 November.Incumbent commission leader Romano Prodi will now stay on as caretaker, but there is no clear protocol on how to proceed. One MEP said the EU was now entering "virgin political territory".


To applause from MEPs, Mr Barroso told Parliament: "I need more time to look at this issue and to consult with the council... so that we can have strong support for the new commission."


On Tuesday, Mr Barroso made last-ditch pleas to deputies to back his team, but refused to seek a replacement for Mr Buttiglione.


Mr Buttiglione, an Italian, recently said he regarded homosexuality as a sin and he suggested unmarried women made bad mothers.


News of a possible delay emerged on Wednesday from the Socialist camp in Strasbourg, who were threatening to oppose the line-up because of Mr Buttiglione's inclusion. After a meeting with Mr Barroso on Wednesday, Austrian Socialist Hannes Swoboda, a leader of the Socialist group said: "There will be a new proposal, a new Commission with changes."


Denmark's Jens Peter Bonde, joint leader of the Independence and Democracy group said: "He's done the numbers and knows he doesn't have a majority."


Hans-Gert Poettering, head of the conservative European People's Party, which was expected to support Mr Barroso's new team, added: "We are all confident to find a solution."


The 732-member parliament cannot choose to reject Mr Buttiglione alone - deputies must accept or reject the new Commission as a whole.


The BBC's Tim Franks says Mr Barroso has two choices: to reshuffle his Commission line-up and put Mr Buttiglione in a less contentious portfolio or ask Italy to propose another candidate. But the Italian press reported on Wednesday that Mr Buttiglione had refused a request from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to withdraw his candidacy.


The 24 new Commissioners were initially put forward by the governments of individual member states.



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