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Frattini blows off Brussels to join Berlusconi.gov

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Silivio Berlusconi's re-election as Italian Prime Minister may be good news for the citizens of that beautiful if occasionally disorganised land, but it will also rob the European Union of one of its most impressive intellects.

Berlusconi, fresh from demonstrating that having a hair transplant and calling your female opponents ugly can indeed constitute a political platform, is recalling EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini to serve as Italy's foreign minister.

Frattini's departure will dismay civil libertarians, privacy advocates, immigration lobbyists, and the makers of violent videogames, all of whom have benefited from his cogent pronouncements over the last few years.

Last year, for example, Frattini declared that he would suppress bomb-making sites on the internet, forgetting among other things that it's possible any given bomb site could be misinformation from the forces of spookery.

Frattini also helped boost sales of the likes of Bully and GTA by calling for violent games to be banned. In fact, he put his Eurocrat credentials at risk by suggesting the UK's model of games ratings be applied across Europe. This squeamishness about outrageous and demeaning entertainment will no doubt serve him well as he heads back to Italy to work for a man whose fortune was famously built, in part, on the backs of stripping Italian housewives in one of the world's more bizarre gameshow formats.

More recently, Frattini has struck out at immigrants trying to inveigle their way into Fortress Europe and called for a continent wide border control system, with a biometrics bent. Clearly, this is not the sort of thing you'd expect from a man drafted in to be foreign minister in a right wing Italian government, but there you go.

In the meantime, the EU will be rushing to fill the Justice post as the commission attempts to push biometric system he proposed, as well as attempting to extend the US visa waiver program to all the EU states.

Still, as Brussels weeps at its loss, the rest of us can only wait to see exactly how Frattini will use his new role to cement Italy's place in the world. Or at least take bets on what he proposes to ban first. ®

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