Slouching toward Strasbourg

Trying to explain the inner workings of EU governance to non-Europeans is a bit like trying to explain the importance of the American League’s designated hitter rule to baseball neophytes. So it’s in the spirit of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox that I present my European press review, written for Slate, for your rumination and criticism.
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Buttiglione on his way out?

While most observers still expect a compromise between incoming Commission president Barroso and those groups in the EP which threatened to block his entire team over the Buttiglione row – Mr Barroso will meet with leading MEPs tomorrow -, according to EUPolitix.com’s press review, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reports that Rocco Buttiglione may “resign” today and be “replaced by Italy?s highly regarded foreign minister Franco Frattini.”

Update from EUPolitix:

Further pressure on Barroso to reshuffle his team came on Wednesday afternoon from parliament?s Greens who said Buttiglione was ?unacceptable? as a commissioner. One solution doing the rounds in parliament?s corridors late on Wednesday is for a three way swap of portfolios between the Italian, Dutch and French commissioners-designates. Buttiglione would take over the transport portfolio, Neelie Kroes would move to justice and Jacques Barrot would take on the competition dossier.

Update: After meeting with leading MEPs incoming commission president Barroso decided to take a chance with an unchanged commission line-up, including Mr Buttiglione. Without an apology, the latter once again regretted his comments that will now lead to a stand-off with the European Parliament on October 27. Even though Mr Barroso’s commission has backing from the center-right European People’s Party, Josep Borrell, the Parliament’s president said that with Socialist, Green and Liberal Parliamentary groups opposed it’s far from certain that Mr Barroso will win the vote. Given the institutional problems involved – as well as Mr Barroso’s offer to set up a cross-departmental working group on human rights – the latter Parliamentary parties haven’t ruled out voting for it yet – but remain highly critical. More here.
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Ever Closer Union.

Over on Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell comments on the istitutional implications of the Buttiglione affair. While we are shocked to learn that The Economist does not like the recent self-confident behavior of the European Parliament with respect to the Commission hearings, Kieran Healy – duly apologetic – makes a fair point in the comments thread – “sorry to lower the tone of the discussion, but if he doesn?t get the job he should move to the San Fernando Valley: ?Rocco Buttiglione? is a Porn-Star Name, par execellence.” The producers of “Oral Office” will probably read this with pleasure…
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Facts & Faith, European Style.

After linking to Ron Suskind’s critique of the Bush administration’s faith based decision style, it is only appropriate to mention that Rocco Buttiglione, Silvio Berlusconi’s nominee as Italy’s European commissioner, is causing a similar debate on this side of the pond – one with possibly important cnostitutional repercussions.
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