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Summary

  1. The final day of the November plenary session began at 08.00 GMT.
  2. MEPs rejected a motion to sack the newly-installed European Commission by 461 to 101. There were 88 abstentions.
  3. The Parliament approved a motion calling for EU legislation to separate internet search engines from other kinds of commercial services.
  4. Before that, the morning session saw human rights debates on blasphemy laws in Pakistan, the accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, and the treatment of women in Iraq.
  5. Hit the 'Key Video' tab for video coverage of the day's voting session.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye

The explanations of votes are finished, and Parliament vice-president Rainer Weiland brings this month's plenary session to a close.

Rainer Weiland
BBC

MEPs will return to Strasbourg for the final plenary session of the year on 15 December. We hope you can join us then. Goodbye.

Increasing pressure

It's worth pointing out that the Parliament itself has no power to split up search engine firms - but MEPs who voted for the motion are hoping to put pressure on new EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to take a tougher line against companies such as Google, whose dominance is a matter of concern for some members for the Parliament.

Digital single market

Explaining why she backed the motion to call for search engines' activities to be broken up, Labour MEP Neena Gill tells MEPs that it is "high time the Commission backs up its commitment to the digital single market with action".

She adds she thinks such a move allow EU states to "firmly put Europe on the path to innovation".

Neena Gill
BBC

Listen again

BBC iPlayer Radio

World Business Report asks:

Is Google Abusing its Dominance?

The programme examines the European Parliament vote on the proposal to split up Google to reduce its dominance online; and even though it's unlikely to happen, it asks: but what if it did?

Google motion criticised

Today's motion on Google and other search engine companies had been

strongly criticised by some in the United States [links to Financial Times] before today's vote.

A joint letter from two US government committees said that the way the EU is targeting US technology companies raised questions about its commitment to open markets.

Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch, as well as congressmen Dave Camo and Sander Levin wrote that "This and similar proposals build walls rather than bridges [and] do not appear to give full consideration to the negative effect such policies may have on the broader US-EU trade relationship."

@BrusselsGeek

BrusselsGeek

tweets: So, I think it's it fair to say that the European Parliament hates Google more than Juncker. Crazy #DigitalSingleMarket vote #notenforceable

@mvanhulten

Michiel van Hulten ‏tweets: Once again it has been shown that attempts by US Congress to influence EP votes don't work. Reverse also true of course. #Google #DSM

Search engine vote

MEPs have voted to approve a motion tabled by Parliament's two largest groups to call for EU legislation unbundling internet search engines from other commercial services.

‏@jameschappers

James Chapman (Daily Mail) tweets: MEPs reject vote of no confidence in Juncker and Commission. Nigel Farage, who proposed motion, apparently did not turn up to take part

Juncker motion

Spanish Left MEP Pablo Iglesias says that "we didn't see anything particularly impressive today", strongly criticising the support of the Spanish socialist MEPs for Jean-Claude Juncker's Commission.

Mr Iglesias's group did not support today's motion but have tried to get enough signatures for the own motion to get rid of the current Commission.

Resolution approved

MEP have voted to approve a resolution calling for greater efforts to alleviate the malnutrition of children in developing countries.

More votes

The voting session continues with votes on:

  • A motion calling for EU legislation to separate internet search engines from commercial services
  • A motion calling for greater efforts to alleviate the malnutrition of children in developing countries.

Votes continue

Following changes made to the agenda earlier this week, MEPs will not now be voting on a motion to recognise Palestine as a state during today's voting session. This will take place at next month's plenary session.

As votes continue, MEPs vote to approve:

• A motion calling for clearer guidelines on EU legislation

• A motion calling for renewed efforts to stop the abuse of children's rights.

@VivianeRedingEU

MEP Viviane Reding tweets: Resounding failure for Europhobic MEPs, motion of censure rejected. The European Government remains at work @JunckerEU #EPlenary

Chair for voting session

In the chair for this voting session is Rainer Weiland, a German MEP and one of the Parliament's 14 vice-presidents.

Rainer Weiland
BBC

@traynorbrussels

Europe Editor of The Guardian, Ian Traynor, ‏tweets: #luxleaks european parliament censure vote against juncker defeated 451-101. pro-censure vote higher than expected

Votes passed

MEPs have voted:

To approve a resolution condemning the use of blasphemy laws in Pakistan

To approve a resolution condemning recent comments by Vojislav Seselj, a Serbian ultra-nationalist on trial for war crimes

To approve a resolution calling for the end of violence and abuse against women in Iraq

Commission vote

MEPs have voted not to sack the European Commission, by a majority of 461 to 101. There were 88 abstentions.

Result vote
BBC

First vote

The first vote during this period is the vote of no confidence in the newly-installed European Commission. With the support of the Parliament's largest political groups, Jean-Claude Juncker's team is expected to survive the vote.

MEPs will then hold votes on:

  • Motions condemning the use of blasphemy laws in Pakistan
  • Motions condemning recent comments by Vojislav Seselj, a Serbian ultra-nationalist on trial for war crimes
  • Motions calling for the end of violence and abuse against women in Iraq

Voting session imminent

That's the debate on the mistreatment of women in Iraq finished.

MEPs will now take a short break, after which they will return to their seats for today's voting session.

Sakharov Prize winner

As many MEPs have mentioned, this debate comes the day after

Parliament welcomed Dr Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist and leading expert in the treatment of victims of rape and violent sexual aggression, to receive the Sakharov Prize, its top human rights award.

Human rights in Iraq

Greek Left MEP Sofia Sakorafa says it is unrealistic to expect respect for human right to emerge from the "chaos" that has been created by a collapsing political system in Iraq, which she says is a consequence of Western military intervention.

Sofia Sakorafa
BBC

'Disgusting' practices

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly tells MEPs that "it's hard to read this motion without feeling disgusted", noting that it is incredible that in the 21st Century they should even have to condemn the selling of women in markets, the condemnation of women to death on "spurious grounds" and physical abuse practiced against young girls.

Seán Kelly
BBC

Unacceptable abuse

Austrian Socialist Josef Weidenholzer says the EU "cannot accept" the abuses practiced against women in Iraq, and lends his support for the motion today which seeks to condemn it.

Josef Weidenholzer
BBC

Large swathes of the country are under the control of Islamic State (IS) militants, who have captured and trafficked thousands of women in the region.

Commissioner's comments

Humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides closes the debate, says the Commission does not have "further views" on the trial of Mr Seselj being conducted in the Hague, but adds that he thinks his recent comments since his temporary release on health grounds belong to "an epoch which was long ago".

We now move onto the final human rights debate this morning, which relates to the kidnapping and mistreatment of women in Iraq.

Don't obstruct accession

Polish Conservative MEP Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski tells his colleagues that any condemnation of Mr Seselj must not lead to the desire to obstruct Serbia's attempts to join the EU.

Michał Ujazdowski
BBC

The European Council voted to open accession negotiations with Serbia in June 2013.

Condemning remarks

The court decided to release Vojislav Seselj for treatment on humanitarian grounds, with Serbia guaranteeing he will be returned to the court for the verdict.

The motion being debated seeks to condemn remarks made by Mr Seselj upon his release, who said he aimed to overthrow Serbia's leaders, whom he called "traitors" and "servants of the West".

'Matter of serious concern'

Humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides winds up this debate by saying the blasphemy laws are a a "matter of serious concern" for the EU, adding that he welcomes the resolution that has been proposed by MEPs and which will be voted on later today.

He continues that the application of the death penalty to blasphemy laws poses a "serious inhibiting effect" on the exercise of human rights, and says the bloc will continue to follow the Asia Bibi case closely, and will use "every opportunity" in its external action to argue for the reform of the laws.

Christos Stylianides
BBC

We now move on to the next human rights debate, which is about Vojislav Seselj, a Serbian ultra-nationalist on trial for war crimes, who was recently allowed to return to Belgrade for cancer treatment.

Bid to amend the laws

In 2010, a member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Sherry Rehman, introduced a private bill to amend Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Her bill sought to change procedures of religious offences so that they would be reported to a higher police official and the cases heard directly by the higher courts.

The bill was passed on to a parliamentary committee for vetting, but was withdrawn in February 2011 under pressure from religious forces and opposition political groups.

Labour MEP speech

Afzal Khan
BBC
Labour MEP Afzal Khan, who has just spoken, was himself born in Pakistan

Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Pakistan's blasphemy laws were first codified by India's British rulers in 1860, and were expanded in 1927.

Pakistan inherited these laws when it came into existence after the partition of India in 1947.

Between 1980 and 1986, a number of clauses were added to the laws by the military government of General Zia-ul Haq.

He wanted to "Islamicise" them and also legally to separate the Ahmadi community, declared non-Muslim in 1973, from the main body of Pakistan's overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Interventions

A number of British MEPs are intervening in the debate this morning.

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock becomes the latest to speak, urging MEPs to see the blasphemy laws in the wider context of "disproportionate targeting" of many kinds of minorities, and not just Christians, echoing a point made earlier by the UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir.

Blasphemy cases

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) - a voluntary organisation - has been documenting blasphemy cases for decades.

The body has found that Muslims constitute the majority of those booked under these laws, closely followed by the Ahmadi community.

Change urged

Ignazio Corrao from Italy's Five Star movement says the EU must do "everything possible" to urge Pakistan to change its blasphemy laws, including looking at changing the bloc's Generalised System of Preferences - or "GSP" - trading scheme.

Ignazio Corrao
BBC

The scheme allows developing countries to pay less or no duties on their exports to the EU. The aim is to give them access to EU markets in order to help their economic growth.

In order to be eligible for the 'GSP' tariffs with the EU, countries have to ratify a total of 27 different conventions, mainly relating to human rights.

Human rights debate

Humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides winds up the debate on child malnutrition.

We now move on to the next item on the agenda - the traditional Thursday human rights debates, ahead of resolutions that will be voted on later this morning.

The first debate, on the current state of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, comes only a month after MEPs discussed

the case of Asia Bibi at last month's plenary.

Nutrition summit

Last year, the UK government hosted the

Nutrition for Growth summit in London. At the gathering, 96 signatories made "significant and public commitments to nutrition-related actions", including a number of targets to be achieved by 2020, such as:

  • Ensuring that at least 500 million pregnant women, and children under two years of age, were reached with effective nutrition intervention
  • Preventing at least 20 million children under the age of five from having their growth stunted
  • Saving at least 1.7 million lives by reducing stunting, increasing breastfeeding, and treating severe acute malnutrition

Oldest member speaks

Greek Left MEP Emmanouil Glezos, aged 92, is the Parliament's oldest member.

Emmanouil Glezos
BBC

'Catch the eye'

That's the end of the scheduled speeches for this debate. MEPs who were not on the list to speak now have the chance to do so, during the five-minute 'catch the eye' procedure.

MEPs can make a brief contribution if they can get the attention of the acting President, who is chairing the debate.

Child malnutrition stats

Last month, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank published updated data on child malnutrition worldwide.

Their

findings said that in 2013:

  • 161 million under-five year olds around the world were estimated to be stunted
  • About half of all stunted children lived in Asia, and over one third in Africa
  • Globally, 99 million under-five year olds were underweight

Calls for gender equality

Belgian Socialist Marc Tarabella highlights that the fight against poverty should be seen within a wider context of gender inequality in developing countries, with girls more likely than boys to be the victims of malnutrition.

He adds that helping women to take a greater role in food production would also contribute to supporting food sustainability more generally, to the benefit of both sexes.

Marc Tarabella
BBC