Tuesday in the European Parliament

Key Points

  • This is Democracy Live's live coverage of the European Parliament plenary session from Strasbourg.
  • MEPs have backed the agreement reached on the EU's long-term budget, for 2014-2020.
  • The evening saw debates on the location of the European Parliament and on a call for more women on boards of directors.
  1.  
    0737:

    Morning everyone, and welcome back to Democracy Live's full commentary of the day's business in the European Parliament.

     
  2.  
    0740:

    The day is beginning with the key debate on the EU's long-term budget, known as the multi-annual financial framework.

     
  3.  
    0750:

    After the opening speeches from the parliament's negotiators on the seven-year budget, we're now hearing from the Budgets Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski.

     
  4.  
    0803:

    "You're all ridiculous", cries co-leader of the Green group, Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He accuses fellow MEPs of criticising the budget, but at the same time refusing to vote against it. He calls on the European Parliament to "stop the nationalisation of the European budget".

     
  5.  
    0812:

    Criticism as well from the other side of the spectrum from Conservative leader Martin Callanan. He is broadly supportive of the deal that has been reached between the institutions, but his critical of the wish-list of demands from MEPs, including calling for the EU to be able to raise money directly.

     
  6.  
    0813:

    The issue of "own-resources" whereby the EU can raise money directly rather than relying on contributions - and rebates - from national governments, has been one of the key flashpoints in talks between MEPs and Council.

     
  7.  
    0823:

    Missed any of yesterday's proceedings from Strasbourg? Watch and read again here.

     
  8.  
    0824:

    It was originally hoped that the long-term budget would be signed off last month, but talks hit a stumbling block due to a row over unpaid bills for this year's budget.

     
  9.  
    0825:

    German Green MEP Helga Trüpel returns to the issue of "own resources", saying the EU should have used the opportunity to bring in a financial transaction tax.

     
  10.  
    0829:

    Swedish social democrat MEP Göran Färm puts up a strong defence of his group's position - which is to criticise the long-term budget but to refuse to vote against it. "To throw Europe into a budget crisis would not solve Europe's economic crisis", he says

     
  11.  
    0850:

    And the size of the long-term budget? €960bn, which represents a cut on the existing multi-annual financial framework, the first time a reduction has been achieved.

     
  12.  
    0853:

    There's further criticism for those who want to reject the agreement from Poland's Sidonia Jedrzejewska, a former negotiator on the EU's budget, who says that rejection would mean that much-needed programmes would not be able to be funded.

     
  13.  
    0856:

    British Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff tweets a note of history: Tony Blair said 'never again' to last #MFF deal. So here we all are again. #EUBudget

     
  14.  
    0905:

    To secure Parliament's backing for the long-term budget, three conditions were granted. The first includes the insertion of a "revision clause", to allow the next Parliament and Commission, elected in 2014, to have a say on the budget.

     
  15.  
    0906:

    The second condition is an increase in flexibility, allowing unspent funds for one area of spending to be moved to a different categories of expenditure, known in EU-jargon as a budgetary line.

     
  16.  
    0907:

    The final condition was the establishment of a "high level group", made up of representatives of the Commission, Council and Parliament to investigate how the EU can increase its own resources, or direct taxation.

     
  17.  
    0908:

    Just to avoid any confusion, the debate on at the moment is on the long-term budget, known as the Multi-annual financial framework, covering the period 2014-2020. This is different to the debate on the straightforward annual budget for 2014, which takes place later this morning.

     
  18.  
    0914:

    Ireland's Mairead McGuinness, from the country's governing Fine Gael party, notes that talks between the institutions were "not always warm, but they have thawed". She also has a riposte for colleagues who want to reject the deal. "No is the easiest word to use. To say yes is a responsible position to have".

     
  19.  
    0931:

    The Budgets Commissioner winds up the debate by thanking MEPs for their "constructive" spirit. He pays particular tribute to the Parliament for adding flexibility to the long-term budget.

     
  20.  
    0934:

    To summarise - when we get to the votes at around 11am there will be four separate votes. The first will be on the multi-annual financial framework itself. This will be a single vote, despite opposition from many MEPs who want individual votes on various aspects of the budget deal.

     
  21.  
    0935:

    This will be followed by a votes on two amending budgets, providing extra money for the 2013 budget to cover unpaid bills and providing a top-up to the European Social Fund.

     
  22.  
    0937:

    The final vote will be on a procedural report by the Constitutional Affairs Committee that accepts the long-term budget deal but calls for better negotiations with national governments in future budget talks.

     
  23.  
    0943:

    And so with the debate on the multi-annual financial framework finished, we now move onto a debate on the EU's annual budget for 2014.

     
  24.  
    0950:

    A deal on the annual budget was struck last week after all night talks between the Parliament, Council and Commission. Under the terms of the agreement, spending next year will amount to €135.5bn, more than the Council wanted, but less than the Parliament and Commission had wanted.

     
  25.  
    0954:

    My colleague Chris Morris in Strasbourg has been looking at the details behind today's long-term budget vote. Watch his report here.

     
  26.  
    1000:

    Lithuania's finance minister Algimantas Rimkunas is speaking on behalf of the Council. It's his turn in the chair as it's Lithuania that currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of Ministers.

     
  27.  
    1001:

    Budgets Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski remarks that the 2014 budget is an "unusual" budget, as it acts as a "bridge" between the current and forthcoming seven-year financial frameworks.

     
  28.  
    1008:

    You'll hear MEPs talk about payments and commitments. Payments represents the money coming into the budget from member states, whereas commitments represents the amount to be spent on various projects. Bulgarian socialist Ivailo Kalfin notes concern at the levels of payments, claiming they may not be sufficient to meet the amount of commitments.

     
  29.  
    1011:

    There is praise for the budget deal from the Conservative budget spokesman, Richard Ashworth, who welcomes an overall reduction in the size of the budget whilst maintaining funding in areas such as youth employment and research.

     
  30.  
    1012:

    There is less praise forthcoming from the left of the Parliament, with Portuguese socialist Alda Sousa lamenting the "disappointing" budget deal.

     
  31.  
    1018:

    About two-thirds of the budget will go on agriculture projects and regional development schemes, however the spending on the latter, the cohesion budget, is being reduced by €7bn.

     
  32.  
    1018:

    The UK was one of four governments, along with Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, that have expressed some degree of opposition to the 2014 budget deal.

     
  33.  
    1020:

    Under the terms of the Treaties, the EU must pass the budget by the end of December, to avoid going into a system of "provisional twelfths", meaning that the previous year's budget is divided by twelve with each portion being made available each month.

     
  34.  
    1024:

    Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon, who represents Scotland, notes the "harsh reality" of the current budgetary situation. He points out that many of the commitments were made back in the "boom time" of 2007, and now the bills are coming in during a vastly different economic climate.

     
  35.  
    1031:

    There is concern at the way in which the EU institutions reach agreement, from Italian MEP Giovanni La Via. He notes that it took until 4am for the budget deal to be reached, and makes a plea for talks to take place in daylight hours only.

     
  36.  
    1032:

    If you're looking for the vote on the annual budget, you will need to wait until tomorrow. To avoid an overload at the daily voting session, today's vote focuses on the long-term budget, with the vote on the 2014 budget taking place tomorrow lunchtime.

     
  37.  
    1046:

    A 15 minute break in proceedings now, before the lunchtime voting session gets under way at 11am GMT (noon in Strasbourg).

     
  38.  
    1057:

    As we await the day's voting session, the European Council has put together this useful guide to how the long-term budget will be spent.

     
  39.  
    1100:

    Many of today's votes will be taken on a "roll-call" basis, meaning that the vote of every MEP is recorded individually. Other less controversial votes will be done on a simple show of hands. If the presiding officer is unable to establish a majority on a show of hands, he or she will call for an electronic check.

     
  40.  
    1103:

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz is in the chair and we're ready to get underway with the votes.

     
  41.  
    1106:

    Giommmaria Uggias, an Italian liberal MEP pays tribute to the victims of last night's cyclone that killed 16 people on the Italian island of Sardinia.

     
  42.  
    1106:

    With the voting session being the focal point of the day, and a with a packed chamber, it is common for MEPs to use this time of day to make points of order or various unrelated statements.

     
  43.  
    1112:

    A moment's silence is now being held in memory of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists who were killed in Mali earlier this month in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda.

     
  44.  
    1113:

    And it's passed - MEPs approve the deal on the EU's long-term budget by 537 votes to 126. Most of the opposition came from the eurosceptics, the left group and the Greens.

     
  45.  
    1118:

    Following the vote on the deal itself, MEPs back the accompanying report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee by 557 votes to 118. The Parliament also backs two amending budgets for 2013 by a similar majority.

     
  46.  
    1119:

    A single vote now on mobilising money from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help workers made redundant in the building industry in Valencia. The vote is passed overwhelmingly.

     
  47.  
    1120:

    It's now time to vote on the various EU-funded programmes that were debated yesterday, starting with the vote on Erasmus+, the EU's education and training scheme, which is passed by 632 votes to 29.

     
  48.  
    1121:

    Moving on now to the Creative Europe programme, which will fund culture and the creative industries for the period 2014-2020. Likewise this is backed overwhelmingly by 650 votes to 32.

     
  49.  
    1124:

    The next programme to be voted on is the Europe for Citizens scheme, which funds citizenship projects. It is backed by 565 votes to 84, but the parliament's negotiator Hannu Takkula repeats concerns over the legal basis that has been used for programme. He would like to see the European Parliament given full co-legislative powers to amend the programme, rather than simply having to give an overall approval or rejection.

     
  50.  
    1125:

    We now have a vote on the Connected Europe Facility, the EU's major scheme for funding cross-border transport, telecoms and energy networks. In another overwhelming approval it is backed by 583 votes to 91.

     
  51.  
    1127:

    Briefly moving away from long-term funding, we have a single vote on approving amendments to a global agreement on government procurement, which was also debated last night. It is backed by 595 votes to 78.

     
  52.  
    1130:

    Back now to votes on various long-term funding, starting with a vote on financing the EU's controversial ITER nuclear fusion project. It has seen a great deal of opposition from many political factions but it is backed by 524 votes to 91, with most of the opposition coming from the Green group.

     
  53.  
    1131:

    Interestingly, the Parliament's negotiator - or "rapporteur" - on the ITER project is Czech Communist MEP Vladimir Remek, who, in 1978, was the first person in space to be neither from the Soviet Union or the US.

     
  54.  
    1132:

    Some tired arms in the European Parliament? Mr Schulz urges MEPs to raise their arms fully so he can work out whether people are voting in favour or not.

     
  55.  
    1134:

    Sticking with nuclear issues, MEPs are currently voting on funding for the research and training programme of the European Atomic Energy Community, negotiated by British Labour MEP Peter Skinner. MEPs back the programme by 549 votes to 90.

     
  56.  
    1137:

    The penultimate vote of the day sees MEPs gives their approval for a funding programme to improve EU cooperation on nuclear safety. It is backed by 565 votes to 88.

     
  57.  
    1139:

    And so to the final vote of today. MEPs are voting on a multi-million euro financial assistance package to help help Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia complete the de-commissioning of three nuclear power plants. These plants have deemed to be too dated to be cost-effectively upgraded. It has been negotiated on behalf of the Energy Committee by British Conservative MEP Giles Chichester, and is backed by 554 votes to 17.

     
  58.  
    1140:

    That brings to an end a speedy but vitally important set of votes. To summarise: MEPs have overwhelmingly backed a deal on the EU's long-term budget, covering the period 2014-2020. They've also backed the first set of programmes funded out of the EU's budget. The remainder - including such key policies as agriculture and regional development - will be voted on tomorrow.

     
  59.  
    1143:

    You will notice that most of the votes were backed overwhelmingly. This is because much of the detailed work takes place in the committees, where deals are struck between the political groups, meaning that what comes to the plenary session is a compromise agreement that generally has broad support.

     
  60.  
    1144:

    With the votes out of the way, the rest of the lunchtime session is taken up with "explanation of votes". As the name suggests, this allows MEPs to put on the record the reason for the way in which they voted. It is often used by MEPs who were unable to speak in the relevant debate.

     
  61.  
    1150:

    The BBC's Europe online team have produced a summary of today's vote on the long-term budget. We'll also be getting reactions from the various political groups throughout the day.

     
  62.  
    1226:

    The Conservative and Reformist group tweets that Syed Kamall, a London MEP has been elected as head of the UK Conservative delegation in the European Parliament.

     
  63.  
    1241:

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz tweets his reaction to today's vote on the MFF: "#EP approves #MFF - far from perfect. #EU investments can flow on time from 1 Jan 2014 to support growth / combat youth unemployment."

     
  64.  
    1242:

    The BBC's Daily Politics programme is about to have an interview with Conservative Marina Yannakoudakis and Labour's Mary Honeyball on this afternoon's debate on quotas for women on boards of directors. It's over on BBC2 now.

     
  65.  
    1250:

    More response coming in from the various political groups on today's budget vote. Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon tweets about the approval for the new EU education funding programme: "Glad to see new, improved Erasmus for All programme approved. More funding for Scottish students to study abroad".

     
  66.  
    1315:

    That brings the morning and lunchtime session of the European Parliament to a close. MEPs will reconvene at 2pm. Highlights later today include a debate on EU regional policies, a debate on quotas for women on boards of directors, and a debate on a report calling on the European Parliament to be able to decide its own location.

     
  67.  
    1349:

    The European Parliament has published full details of all of today's votes.

     
  68.  
    1401:

    And we're back. Vice-president Isabelle Durant takes the chair, and we're beginning this afternoon's session with a debate on the seven year budget for the EU's funding for Europe's regions, known in the EU-jargon as the cohesion funds.

     
  69.  
    1402:

    The €324bn package is the EU's main investment tool for boosting poorer regions of the bloc.

     
  70.  
    1406:

    Opening speaker Lambert van Nistelrooij, a Dutch Christian Democrat MEP points out that the current negotiations on cohesion policy was the first time that the European Parliament had full co-legislative powers with national governments, following extra powers granted by the Lisbon Treaty.

     
  71.  
    1407:

    The cohesion and structural funds cover three main funds - the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, and the Cohesion Fund.

     
  72.  
    1413:

    The European Social Fund covers access to employment, combating discrimination and facilitating access for disadvantaged people.

     
  73.  
    1422:

    The European Regional Development Fund supports regional development programmes, such as local job creation schemes and economic modernisation projects.

     
  74.  
    1426:

    Finally the Cohesion Fund supports environmental and transport projects in countries with a gross national income of less than 90% of the EU average. This mainly applies to the newer member states, as well as Greece and Portugal.

     
  75.  
    1426:

    The Cohesion Fund has been expanded to cover the "green economy", such as installing energy efficiency in housing.

     
  76.  
    1431:

    Missed this morning's debates on the EU's budgets? The full video of proceedings is now available to watch here.

     
  77.  
    1455:

    The Regional Affairs Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, welcomes support from MEPs for the cohesion package, describing it as "a way of leading Europe out of the economic crisis".

     
  78.  
    1457:

    My colleagues over in Strasbourg have been talking to MEPs to get their reaction to today's budget vote. Green group co-president Rebecca Harms told the BBC "I'm very disappointed because this decision will create many problems. First of all the EU will have already next year more debts than today, and this is awful. I'm also very unhappy because this budget is stopping all initiatives for sustainable economic development, and this is against everybody's interests in Europe."

     
  79.  
    1459:

    Overseeing all aspects of the EU's cohesion funds is the so-called "common regulation". For 2014-2020, this will give national and local authorities, more say in planning and implementing the funds.

     
  80.  
    1459:

    For example, they will be given the opportunity to combine money allocated to the three different funds into "multi-fund" programmes.

     
  81.  
    1500:

    You'll be hearing a lot of MEPs talking about "macro-economic conditionality". This is a process which can trigger the suspension of cohesion funds if a country develops an excessive budget deficit. This has been opposed by many MEPs who say it will hurt the regions who most need the funding.

     
  82.  
    1512:

    In one of the compromises reached during inter-institutional talks, the Regional Development Committee secured greater parliamentary oversight of this mechanism, to ensure that any suspension of funding takes account of a country's social and economic circumstances.

     
  83.  
    1513:

    The committee is currently chaired by Polish MEP Danuta Hübner who was previously the EU's Regional Affairs Commissioner.

     
  84.  
    1514:

    We're hearing comments from one of the parliament's lead negotiators on the EU's long-term budget. Jean-Luc Dehaene, a Christian Democrat MEP and former Prime Minister of Belgium has told the BBC "we as the European Parliament accepted the level that the Council decided, but we - because that level is so low, lower than previous years - tried to make it more operational by introducing more flexibility"

     
  85.  
    1525:

    The new common rules on funding will also apply to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which will be debated separately tomorrow as part of the Common Agricultural Policy debate.

     
  86.  
    1531:

    British independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire highlights the European Fund for the Most Deprived, which will fund food banks through the European Social Fund. She warns that "thousands" of people will be unable to afford basic food if current price rises continue.

     
  87.  
    1533:

    A further thought on today's budget vote comes from Morten Messerchmidt, an MEP from the broadly eurosceptic Danish Peoples Party who tells the BBC: "I think this budget points in the wrong direction. There will still be excessive spending in useless programmes, and sometimes even damaging programmes like the agricultural subsidies. Just last week we had the Court of Auditors coming out rejecting once again the annual budget."

     
  88.  
    1541:

    Ulster Unionist and Conservative MEP Jim Nicholson gives his thoughts on the impact of the cohesion funding on Northern Ireland, saying they have made a "valued contribution for public programmes".

     
  89.  
    1542:

    Mr Nicholson, who has been an MEP for over twenty years, says he is particularly pleased with continued funding for projects that support the Northern Ireland peace process.

     
  90.  
    1600:

    There is criticism of the EU's cohesion funds from UKIP's Gerard Batten, who says that the European Regional Development Fund is mere "EU propaganda". And he adds, "there is no such thing as EU money, only taxpayer's money".

     
  91.  
    1613:

    As I mentioned, one of the countries that benefits from cohesion funding is Greece, and there are warm words for the package of legislation from one of the country's MEPs Nikolaos Salavrakos, who says that "increased simplification and more coordination" will help Greece's struggling economy.

     
  92.  
    1615:

    But a note of caution is sounded from Austria's Ewald Stadler, a non-attached member. He says that the need for cohesion funding is "a sign of failure of the countries receiving funding, not a failure of European solidarity". He questioned why richer northern European countries need to fund poorer regions in Europe's south.

     
  93.  
    1625:

    A number of MEPs have referred to the impact of the cohesion funds on the EU's "outermost regions". These are territories of EU member states that are located outside the EU but are nevertheless part of the union.

     
  94.  
    1627:

    There are currently eight - the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and St Martin. The French Overseas Department of Mayotte will become a formal outermost region in 2014.

     
  95.  
    1649:

    Just an update for you on finishing times. This debate is expected to wind up at around 5:30pm. Tonight's session is expected to close sometime between 9pm and 9:30pm, although the agenda has already slipped somewhat so that is still provisional.

     
  96.  
    1652:

    The European Parliament's audiovisual service has tweeted this video profile of the winner of the Sakharov Prize, Malala Yousafzai. She will be picking up her award from MEPs during a special ceremony in the chamber tomorrow from 11amGMT.

     
  97.  
    1714:

    The wind up speeches are beginning now, from the Commission followed by the Council, and finally the almost unprecedented seven rapporteurs.

     
  98.  
    1720:

    Employment Commissioner László Andor tells MEPs that the amount of European Social Fund money that will support people at risk of poverty will be raised from 13% to 20%.

     
  99.  
    1745:

    And so after almost four hours, the debate on the EU's cohesion policies comes to an end, and the vote will take place tomorrow during the voting session from 11.30am.

     
  100.  
    1746:

    The next item for MEPs to discuss is a proposal by the Commission to try and increase the number of women who are non-executive board members.

     
  101.  
    1748:

    One of the Parliament's two negotiators on the proposals, Austrian social democrat Evelyn Regner, points out that some countries - notably France and Norway - already have some degree of binding targets for female representation on boards.

     
  102.  
    1748:

    Ms Regner says she wants to "put the old boys network out of business".

     
  103.  
    1752:

    According to figures from the European Commission, women currently only make up 15% of non-executive board members.

     
  104.  
    1752:

    The Commission - backed by the European Parliament's Legal Affairs and Women's Rights Committees - has proposed that by at least 2020, 40% of EU-listed companies' non-executive board members should be women.

     
  105.  
    1759:

    Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding welcomes the support from MEPs for the Commission's proposals for binding targets. She says studies have shown that relying on self-regulation does not work.

     
  106.  
    1759:

    Ms Reding tells the chamber that passing this directive will "help smash the glass ceiling that prevents qualified women from holding top posts in listed companies".

     
  107.  
    1800:

    A reminder of the difference between directives and regulations - a regulation is legally binding in its entirety, whereas a directive specifies the ends, leaving the member states to come up with the means.

     
  108.  
    1805:

    At committee stage MEPs voted to go even further than the Commission's original proposal, with a call for companies that miss their binding targets should be excluded from bidding for public tenders.

     
  109.  
    1816:

    German liberal MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin says she welcomes the Commission's proposals in theory, but that they need to be brought in in tandem with making the European economy more competitiveness.

     
  110.  
    1823:

    A majority of MEPs at committee stage voted to extend the Commission's proposals by ensuring that sanctions against companies who do not comply would be mandatory rather than merely indicative.

     
  111.  
    1825:

    British Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis speaks out against the proposals, saying that "quotas may cure the symptom but they will not cure the disease". She says she has confidence in women's abilities to get to the top on merit, noting that despite Norway's quota system, the number of women in senior position is lower than the European average.

     
  112.  
    1828:

    Ms Yannakoudakis's comments provoke some level of debate, with MEPs using the so-called "blue-card" procedure. This allows MEPs to make brief interventions to question a fellow Parliamentarian on a comment they have made. Austrian Green MEP Eva Lichtenbeger repeats her claim that self-regulation has failed, but Ms Yannakoudakis responds with figures that claim that a majority of female workers were against women.

     
  113.  
    1830:

    UKIP's Stuart Agnew comments, "Women don't have the ambition to get to the top, something gets in the way. It's called a baby," remarks that lead to a flurry of attempted blue-card interventions.

     
  114.  
    1916:

    Winding up this debate, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says that the Commission's proposals are an "economic imperative". She insists the directive represents a "fair deal" for the business world.

     
  115.  
    1925:

    It's time for MEPs to debate a long-waited report on the location of the European Parliament, opened by the report's co-author, British Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

     
  116.  
    1925:

    Mr Fox starts by saying it revolves around two key principles - that the Parliament should have one single seat, and that the Parliament should be allowed to choose its own location. He is at pains to point out that the report does not mention Brussels or Strasbourg by name.

     
  117.  
    1927:

    He says it cannot continue that MEPs urge the people of Europe to cut their CO2 emissions, whilst at the same time the Parliament emits 19,000 tonnes of CO2 every year due to the monthly move to Strasbour.

     
  118.  
    1930:

    The report - co-written by German Green MEP Gerald Häfner - says that the costs arising from parliament's geographic split may reach €204m a year.

     
  119.  
    1931:

    Much of the work of the European Parliament takes place in Brussels, although the monthly plenary sessions are in Strasbourg and some of the administration is based in Luxembourg.

     
  120.  
    1932:

    It is interesting to note that no-one from the European Commission is down to speak in this debate, a highly unusual move.

     
  121.  
    1938:

    Ashley Fox notes that he understands why the Parliament originally sat in Strasbourg in the post-WW2 years, noting that it was a "good choice and a symbol of reconciliation". But he continues, "what was a symbol of reconciliation then, is now a symbol of waste".

     
  122.  
    1940:

    He receives support from his British Conservative colleague Giles Chichester, speaking on behalf of the Petitions Committee, who says that the committee has received many petitions complaining about the multi-location nature of the Parliament but that "we've been unable to debate this until now".

     
  123.  
    1943:

    Opposition to the Fox-Häfner report comes from French centre-right MEP Constance Le Grip who accuses its supporters of "deliberately maintaining ambiguity between seat, and place of work". She maintains that according to the treaties, the Parliament has one seat - Strasbourg.

     
  124.  
    1944:

    Amending the treaties to allow the European Parliament to choose its own location would require support from all EU governments, and France has repeatedly indicated that it would resist any such move.

     
  125.  
    1948:

    Ms Le Grip accuses opponents of the current situation of having an ulterior motive. "You are turning your backs on the history and the founding principles of the European Union", she says.

     
  126.  
    1959:

    Some differing views from the opposite ends of the political spectrum. German MEP Helmut Scholz, from the European United Left group welcomes the report. He says it shows up the poor organisation the EU as "the elected representatives of the people cannot decide their work for themselves".

     
  127.  
    2001:

    However Bruno Gollnisch from the French National Front repeats the claim about Strasbourg being the sole seat of the Parliament. He blames the number of people who want to end the multi-location of the Parliament on "newcomers to the club wanting to change the rules".

     
  128.  
    2003:

    A number of MEPs have described the monthly trips to Strasbourg as a "travelling circus". This angers Ms Le Grip who comments that "if our work is deemed to be a circus then that does not pay sufficient respect to the dignity of the work we do".

     
  129.  
    2009:

    The DUP MEP Diane Dodds, who sits as a non-attached member, draws upon Northern Ireland's troubled history. "We have learned to work together and move forward, surely it's time for the European Parliament to do the same".

     
  130.  
    2010:

    French centre-right MEP Philippe Boulland bluntly states, "I'm not going to congratulate the report authors", accusing the report of being littered with factual errors and being "not worthy of this Parliament".

     
  131.  
    2011:

    This brings co-author Gerald Häfner to his feet insisting that the figures are "the official figures given by the Secretary-General of the European Parliament".

     
  132.  
    2014:

    It's time for a native of Strasbourg to take to the floor - socialist MEP Catherine Trautmann. The former mayor of Strasbourg is, perhaps unsurprisingly, strongly against the report. She says the "anti-Strasbourg brigade" is "inducing our voters into error".

     
  133.  
    2024:

    And so the two authors of the report close what has been a lively debate. Turning to the French MEPs who criticised his report, Ashley Fox says that "to say that to attack Strasbourg is to attack Europe is nonsense on stilts", accusing critics of "defending their selfish national interest".

     
  134.  
    2025:

    The vote on the Fox-Häfner report will take place during the daily voting session tomorrow lunchtime from 11.30am.

     
  135.  
    2033:

    Time now for a statement from Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding on the current state of play of ongoing global trade talks, known as the Doha round.

     
  136.  
    2033:

    In two weeks time the ninth WTO ministerial conference will take place, and Ms Reding tells MEPs that "for first time in many years we are close to reaching an agreement".

     
  137.  
    2034:

    The Doha round was launched in November 2001 and has a key objective of preventing protectionism, ensuring trade liberalisation and eliminating export subsidies.

     
  138.  
    2034:

    Talks have been stalled since 2008 due to a row over agriculture imports.

     
  139.  
    2041:

    The chair of Parliament's International Trade Committee, Vital Moreira, pays tribute to the new head of the World Trade Organisation Roberto Azevêdo, saying his leadership has "considerably improved prospects for an agreement".

     
  140.  
    2049:

    The BBC has put together a summary of some of the key points of view on today's crucial vote on the EU's long-term budget.

     
  141.  
    2050:

    Back to the current debate on the Doha trade talks, Latvian centre-right MEP Ines Vaidere warns that the recent economic crisis should not be used as an excuse by governments to "retreat into protectionism".

     
  142.  
    2101:

    Time now for the penultimate debate of the evening, a debate on future funding of European satellite navigation systems, such as Galileo.

     
  143.  
    2102:

    The multi-billion euro Galileo system is being built by the European Union and the European Space Agency and is designed to give Europe's its own independent satellite navigation system.

     
  144.  
    2114:

    Supporters of Galileo say it will end the reliance of the EU on other satellite systems, such as the US-led GPS and Russia's GLONASS, which could theoretically be disabled in times of war or conflict.

     
  145.  
    2125:

    The Parliament's negotiator on the European satellite programmes, Romanian centre-right MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu welcomes further financial support, saying it will provide a boost to jobs across the EU.

     
  146.  
    2133:

    MEPs are now moving onto the final debate of the day, looking at new proposals from the European Commission on so-called Key Information Documents (KIDs) for financial investment products.

     
  147.  
    2133:

    The proposed regulation is designed to improve the quality of information provided to consumers when considering investments.

     
  148.  
    2136:

    Small investors would be given a KID with clear, comparable and complete information on any investment product before signing a binding contract. Furthermore, if a small investor can prove that a financial loss was incurred due to a misleading KID, the investment product manager could face liabilities under civil law.

     
  149.  
    2142:

    Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier explains that small investors were badly hit by the economic crisis.

     
  150.  
    2146:

    He tells MEPs that savings are "languishing" in deposit accounts, as people do not trust investment products. He complains about the "lack of symmetry" between the amount being invested, and the amount that is understood, arguing that large investment firms have more awareness of risks than independent savers.

     
  151.  
    2151:

    Like many of this afternoon's reports, the Parliament's response to the Key Information Documents Regulation will take place during tomorrow lunchtime's voting session from 11.30am.

     
  152.  
    2152:

    That brings to an end a very busy day in Strasbourg, a day that saw MEPs finally give their consent to the EU's multi-billion euro long-term budget. Tomorrow's highlights include a debate on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, the presentation of the Commission's Annual Work Programme, and the awarding of the Sakharov Prize to Malala Yousafzai.

     
  153.  
    2157:

    I'm back tomorrow from 7.30am to guide you through the day's business. Thank you for your company today but, for now, good night.

     

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