Weekly News Review

16th October 2004

Berlusconi’s pet bigot rejected for Commission Justice portfolio rejected by European Parliament: EU’s only elected institution will be overruled

The European Parliament this week refused to endorse the nomination of the proposed new commissioner for justice, Berlusconi-ite Italian Rocco Buttiglione. Buttiglione believes that homosexuality is a "sin" and that marriage exists to enable women to have children and men to protect them. Unfortunately, this bigot will almost certainly still end up taking the lead in determining the European Commission’s attitude to matters involving the civil liberties of the people whom he regards as aberrant and the women he regards as natural homemakers. Although the parliament's civil liberties committee voted narrowly 26 to reject his nomination, it does not have the power to enforce its will in the case of a single appointee. Instead, it must accept or reject the whole "college", and rejection has already been effectively ruled out by its reaction, generally positive, to the rest of the Commissioners-designate.

The vote provoked a storm of indignation from Il Duce Berlusconi and other right wing extremists. This is partly designed to create a smokescreen to attack Hungary’s appointee, Laszlo Kovacs, on paper easily the most progressive of the new team. The right plan to imply, though probably not to state openly, that one politically-motivated attack justifies another. The difference, of course, is that while civilised human beings may hold views with which the left disagrees, homophobia is not one of them. It is not a political standpoint to describe homosexuality as "a sin", but a hate crime, and should be treated as such.

Mandelson in denial over incestuous relations DG Trade with big business

According to mainstream (i.e. right-wing) media reports, EU Trade Commissioner-designate Peter Mandelson pulled off "a bravura performance" at his confirmation hearing in the European Parliament on October 4th. Living up to his reputation as a spinmeister, Mandelson elegantly avoided answering inconvenient questions about the privileged power of lobby groups like the Transatlantic Business Dialogue. Read more here

EU political party financing to be decided this week

The political groups in the European Parliament are set to see money paid out to them from EU coffers before the end of this month. Read all about it here

French Socialists set to hold EU Constitution vote

The French Socialist Party (PS) is to hold its own internal referendum on the EU Constitution, which will take place on r 1 December. Read more here

Reclaiming Public Water: Participatory Alternatives to Privatisation

High-profile privatisation failures in major cities of the South provide ample evidence that the water needs of the poor should not be left in the hands of profit-driven transnational water corporations. The time has now come to refocus the global water debate to the key

questions: how to improve and expand public water delivery around the world? Read the full story in new TransNational Institute/Corporate Europe Observatory briefing here