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Friday, November 05, 2004

What Buttiglione actually said.

Please excuse the horrible formatting, I don't have time to tidy it.

MR ALVARO : (33:00)

One minute is not long enough to find out about your position and your
work - General impression - Top priority ? instruments intend to use to
implement your policies - under what circumstances you would consider
resigning - What factors do you take into account in your decision making
and how does your close relationship with the US and the Vatican relations
affect your decisions ?

BUTTIGLIONE :

First priority : to consolidate the subjective priorities of the
Commission i.e. cooperate all time with EP, and working with the parliament.
Top priority . Everything else depends on this.

Resign : if President Barroso were to require it, in the interest of the
European project, I would resign immediately.

I am friend of the US but I am not American I have had difference with the
US as all Europeans have had. . We must work with the US. I believe that
Europe has to live in a transatlantic community but there has to be two
pillars of it, Europe being a full pillar. We have to be prepared to work
with Americans as equal partners on the future of the world with joint
responsibilities for the future of humanity.

On the Vatican, there is no secret that I am a catholic, but that has not
much to do with the Vatican but with my own faith, with my personal
convictions, and I think a person can be a good catholic and a good European
at the same time. Otherwise the great Europeans would count either Adenauer,
or De Gasperi, Schuman or Helmut Kohl.

MRS BUITENWEG : (36:30)

Mr Buttiglione, some of your opinions are in direct contradiction of
European law. For example, the discrimination on grounds on sexual
orientation is prohibited and you have said that homosexuality is a sin and
the sign of moral disorder. I'd like to know from you how it is that we
should expect you to fight for those things and could you give us a specific
example of how you want to obtain your objective ?

BUTTIGLIONE :

I shall remind an old and perhaps not completely unknown philosopher, a
certain Emmanuel Kant, from Koenigsberg who made a clear cutting distinction
between morality and law. Many things may be considered to be immoral, that
should not be prohibited. When we make politics we do not renounce to the
right of having more convictions and I may think that homosexuality is a sin
and this has no effect on politics unless I say that homosexuality is a
crime. In the same way you are free to think that I am a sinner on most
things of life and this does not have any effect on our relations as
citizens. So I would say that I would consider it to be an inadequate
consideration of the problem to pretend that everybody agrees on moral
matters. We can build a community of citizens even if on some moral matters
we have different opinions. The issue is rather non discrimination. The
state has no right to stick its nose in those things and nobody can be
discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or any gender orientation.
This stands in the Charter of Fundamental rights, this stands in the
Constitution, and I have pledged to defend this constitution.

M. PEK : (1:06:30)

Thank you chairman and I do hope that this is something that will be
normal hence fore in this committee. My first question is an easy one and a
pleasant one: do you believe that marriage is an union between a man and a
woman or is it something else ? My second question is a bit more tricky : at
present the European superstate being built through the constitution, is it
something that is being built on human rights which is forced on it by a
minority. It that a firm foundation for a Europe of the future or do we need
something rather more timeless that binds us as had been the case in the
past history of humanity ?

BUTTIGLIONE :

First of all I must say that I am very happy to hear the polish language
here in the European parliament. It was the dream of a whole polish
generation that has struggled for freedom and for Europe. And I have had the
privilege of being in contact with this generation and I am very happy to
hear today a polish voice in this parliament.

My personal opinion on marriage is well known. The word "marriage" comes
from the latin "matrimonium" which means protection of the mother and so the
family exist in order to allow women to have children and to have the
protection of a male who takes care of them and this is the traditional
vision of marriage that I defend. I don't think this to be fairly relevant
in this area because the definition of marriage falls within the competence
of member states. So whether I think this way or whether I think in another
way, this has no practical impact. By the way this is the view that is
accepted in 22 out of 25 member states today. It is no a matter of the
Union, it should not become a matter of the Union, it is a matter of the
member states It must remain a matter of the member states, according to the
principle of subsidiarity. So it is a matter of philosophical but not of
political discussion.

As what regards the Constitution I think this constitution is based on
Human rights it is based on the rights of the human person. And I think this
to correspond to the best European tradition. I would not endorse the
judgement that this is a kind of betrayal of the great European tradition.
There is a line moving from Socrates to Christianity, to enlightments, and
arriving to the point to which we are today.

MICHAEL CASHMAN : (1:16)

Vice President designate, I have to say that some of the statements you
have made about homosexuality cause me deep concern but let's not judge you
by words but by actions. You said earlier to Mrs Buitenweg that the State
has no right to stick its nose in relations to issues regarding sexual
orientation. How can you therefore explain your actions in putting down an
amendment to the convention that wrote the charter of fundamental rights
that sought to remove sexual orientation from the grounds of non
discrimination?

BUTTIGLIONE

It is clearly an amendment that says that when we define the principle of
non discrimination, this principle is not applied only to a limited set of
cases, those that are enumerated, This principle is expansive, that should
be applied to different cases and I did not think that it was strengthened
to the mention in particular of homosexuals. But in any case, this belongs
to a discussion that was closed. I do not doubt that if you had written the
Constitution alone, you would have written a different Constitution or a
different Charter of human rights. And if I had written the Charter of human
rights or the Constitution alone, I would have written a different Charter
and a different Constitution. But this is the Constitution that we have
written together And this is the Constitution which binds together all of us
and this is the Constitution with which I am willing to live and this is the
Constitution and the Charter of rights I am willing to defend.

MICHAEL CASHMAN : (1:18) - extra question - extra time (30')....

Vice President designate, this is extremely important because we have to
judge you by your actions. You said on one hand that you believe that the
State should not intervene on grounds of non discrimination against
homosexuals. But you sought to specifically remove that ground specifically
that ground. So therefore we have a charter of fundamental rights which you
would not uphold.

BUTTIGLIONE :

I must most emphatically demy. I clearly said that this is the charter
that we have made together and this is the charter that I shall defend and
that I am willing to defend. As what regards the reasons why I made that
amendment I explained those reasons. You may be in agreement with my reasons
or not but I think that my answer was clear.

IN'T VELD (01:32:00)

Commissioner designate, here we are not interested simply at your
suitability as a commissioner but whether you are suitable for your
particular area of competence. Now you have made some comments about women
and homosexuality and you have given your personal view which you have said
would not affect your political activity. But then I am extremely surprised
that you were co-signatory to legislation or refused to sign certain points
of law in Italy which were not appropriate for you. So you cannot say that
the constitutional laws for fundamental rights will protect us right. That
is not enough. As a Commissioner you must be pro active and must yourself
attempt to develop a proper body of law. Do you have any specific plans over
the next five years to strengthen the role of women and to promote
protection of homosexuals. We would like to see whether there will be five
years of progress or five years of impasse.

BUTTIGLIONE

I am against discrimination, I think that all humans must enjoy the same
rights whether they are homosexual or heterosexual or whatever else. If
whatever else can be thought of. And I am engaged in defending the rights of
all European citizens, included the right to non discrimination. You want me
to be proactive, I am not sure I really understand what you mean with
proactive. I think the rights of homosexuals should be defended on the same
basis as the rights of all other European citizens. If there are specific
problems regarding homosexuals, I am ready to consider these specific
problems. If you tell me for instance that there is a particular
concentration of violence against homosexuals, then I am ready to consider
the hypothesis of specific legislation in order to protect against this
violence homosexuals and in order to give better guarantee to the right to
equality. But I would not accept the idea that homosexuals are a category
apart and that the defence of their rights should take place on a basis that
is different of all European citizens at large. So I am pro-active for
European citizens.

A little bit different is the question of women. I think we should have
specific projects regarding women. I am worried about the fact that too few
children are born in Europe. That is one of a major European problem that
stands in front of us And I think we all should make reflections on the
living condition of women with a man perhaps, of woman today , too much
without giving adequate support. This is an issue that I am wishing to
raise.

Mr BOURLANGES

Thank you. You were talking about defending homosexuals on a different
basis and you gave your views with regards to that. Now what do you mean
regarding what sort of attitude would you be against ?

Dr BUTTIGLIONE

I would defend the charter i.e. the principle of non discrimination
meaning that it is not permissible to have any discrimination on the basis
of sexual orientation in any sphere of life. All European citizens should
have equal rights to all European citizens.

Mrs KOSANE KOVACS (1:39:00)

Commissioner Designate, Europe is multicultural and will become more and
more so. So I would like to ask whether you see any moral distinction in the
belonging to different religions or the relationships between believers and
non believers. On other areas with a higher or a lower level of crime, and
you are a Christian are you or are you a catholic, so if we all have equal
rights do you mean that we should have equal rights to discriminate against
one another, to talk in discriminatory terms against the Roma group or to
speak against homosexuals and if not what legal measures would you be in
favour for amending the title that you referred to which covers all these
categories of persons.

BUTTIGLIONE

I am a Christian of catholic denomination as what regards my personal
religious belief. And I think we are moving towards a multicultural society.
I think we should be very careful because there is a debate on multicultural
society today. And multicultural society is like marriage. If you match
cultures that succeed in enriching a high level of mutual understanding, it
may be very similar to paradise. If you don't do that it may be similar to
hell. And we have examples of multicultural societies of the first kind and
of the second kind. So we must all be engaged in building in Europe a
multicultural society. This is vital. And is based on reciprocal
comprehension and in which there is a high level of mutual understanding. I
don't think that people should be discriminated on the basis of their
religion. And I think that dialogue among religions should take place in
such a form as to encourage people to have respect for the other. To have
respect does not mean that one should think that the other is right and that
there is not right or wrong. You may well think that there is a difference
between right or wrong, you may think that you are right and another person
is wrong and nevertheless think that as a human being he has an infinite
value and he deserve infinite respect. This is also true in all the cases
you have mentioned.