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Live Reporting

Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    And with that, tonight's "mini plenary" sitting draws to a close. 

    MEPs will next meet in plenary tomorrow to give an emergency vote on the Commission's plans for mandatory quotas to redistribute asylum seekers from Greece, Italy and Hungary - and then after that on October 5. 

  2. Speedy speeches

    Next, there will be a round of short one-minute speeches from backbench MEPs.

    This item of business, traditionally held at the end of "mini plenary" sittings, is normally used by MEPs to make points about topical issues or stories of interest to their country or region. 

    The sitting will close with a small number of speeches relating to this lunchtime's voting session, at which MEPs passed a resolution suggesting priorities for the Commission's legislative programme for next year. 

  3. Commissioner defends aid package

    Summing up for the Commission, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan defends the size of the Commission's aid package, telling MEPs that the EU executive doesn't "have an unlimited budget". 

    He denies accusations that the Commission only responded to the problem after farmers came to Brussels to protest, adding that the Commission proposed the package because of what MEPs have been saying for some time. 

    In response to criticism that the EU cares more for bailing out banks than its farmers, he seeks to highlight that the EU "gives farmers €40bna year" and that "shouldn't go unnoticed". 

    Phil Hogan
  4. A fair price at the farm gate

    Labour MEP Paul Brannen says a potential solution to the price crisis might lie in a "fair price certification scheme", similar to those that exist for some agricultural products made by producers in developing countries, that would allow consumers to identify milk that guarantees "a fair price at the farm gate". 

    Paul Brannen
  5. Common Agricultural Policy 'failed farmers'

    Portuguese Communist Party MEP Miguel Viegas says the current fall in prices is representative of a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that has failed farmers. 

    He adds that the "abandoning" of "public regulation instruments" in the milk sector has increased price volatility for producers. 

    He continues that the support so far announced by the Commission is "not enough" and it should do more to support prices. 

    Miguel Viegas
  6. Help for farmers

    Italian Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio tells the chamber that the EU seems "more concerned about immigrants than its own farmers". 

    He says that the current market for agricultural products does not allow farmers to "earn an honest wage for their work", and says he deplores an EU which "has spent billions to help banks" but seems reluctant to help its agricultural workers.  

    Mario Borghezio
  7. EU agriculture woes

    France's agriculture minister has estimated that about 22,000 farms - 10% of the total - face bankruptcy and owe about €1bn.

    The sector has also been hit by a ban on exporting food to Russia, a market worth around €5.5bn annually.

    Milk producers have said they have been especially hard hit since EU milk quotas – which limit the amount of milk farmers can produce – were lifted earlier this year.

    Some farmers have called for milk production quotas to be reintroduced to avoid them having to sell at a loss.

    The Commission has admitted the scrapping of quotas may bring additional volatility in the milk market, but also presents an opportunity for producers to increase the amount of milk they sell in fast-growing markets in Asia and Africa. 

    Milk farm
    Image caption: Milk farmers have protested that they are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living
  8. 'A demonstration of solidarity'

    Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan says the EU's aid package is a "demonstration of solidarity" that reflects the Commission's commitment to support European food production.

    He adds that, in response to concerns about where the money for the scheme is going to come from, he says he can confirm that the cash will come from within the "existing margins" of the EU agriculture budget and will not eat into emergency funds

    He calls on MEPs to support the legislative acts to target the funding, which he says are already being drawn up.

    He adds that it is important at this moment that funding is provided quickly to struggling farmers. 

    Phil Hogan
  9. Farming prices debate begins

    That’s the debate on the Commission’s new summer energy reforms over.

    Next tonight, MEPs are debating the falling price of farming products with EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan.

    Prices for farming produce have been falling in many parts of Europe due to a combination of decreasing demand from China and a Russian embargo on EU food imports instigated as a response to Western sanctions over Ukraine.

    Last week EU agriculture ministers announced a €500m aid package after thousands of farmers protested on the streets of Brussels.

    European farmers are also receiving cash from a multi-million-euro aid package for those hit by the Russian ban, which was extended until next year in July. 

    Farmer protests
    Image caption: Protesters mainly including Belgian, French and German farmers recently protested about falling prices outside EU buildings in Brussels
  10. Respect the 'weaker' economies

    Polish Conservative MEP Dawid Bohdan Jackiewicz says the wishes of the "weaker" economies need to be respected in the Commission's ETS reforms.

    He adds that his own country, which is comparatively dependent on burning coal for its energy, is hit disproportionately hard by drives to "decarbonise" the EU economy. 

    He argues that this approach goes against the EU's community values.  

    Dawid Bohdan Jackiewicz
  11. 'Sensible suggestions'

    Conservative MEP Ashley Fox outlines his support for the Commission's package, which he says contains many "sensible suggestions".

    In particular, he says he welcomes the decision to revert back to the old A-G efficiency labelling scheme, which he calls "well recognised" by consumers. 

    "I do wonder why they changed it in the first place", he adds. 

    He calls, however, on the Commission to amend its VAT directive, which he says prevents the UK government from charging lower taxes on more energy-efficient products.  

  12. 'Back to the drawing board'

    UKIP MEP David Coburn accuses the ETS system of having "comprehensively failed", and urges the EU to scrap it and "go back to the drawing board". 

    He adds that the policy has cost jobs by driving energy-intensive industries "out of the EU altogether". 

    David Coburn
  13. Proposed changes to energy labelling

    The new EU regulation plans a return to the original scale for ranking the efficiency of energy products, which ran from A-G.

    It has been argued that technological developments have made it harder for consumers to distinguish between energy saving products.

    The Commission also wants to create an online database to list the energy efficiency of different products, and set up an automatic way for efficiency ratings to be adjusted in response to future industry developments. 

    Washing machine
    Image caption: Household appliances such as washing machines are rated under an EU labelling scheme, where the most efficient products are labelled dark green and the least dark red.
  14. What are the Commission’s planned changes to the ETS?

    The ETS covers more than 11,000 power stations and manufacturing plants in the 28 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Airlines are also covered.

    The Commission plans to reduce ETS allowances by 2.2% every year from 2021 onwards, in order to gradually boost the price of carbon.

    At the moment, this annual reduction stands at around 1.7%.

    The Commission also plans to set up a “modernisation fund” – worth 2% of the ETS allowances – to improve energy infrastructure in the 10 poorest EU countries. 

  15. 'Deep commitment' to a green EU economy

    Energy Union Commissioner Maros Sefcovic tells MEPs that the proposed ETS reforms show the Commission's "deep commitment" to decarbonising the EU economy. 

    He also says the proposed "modernisation fund" included in the package will support investment in low-carbon technologies. 

    He says the energy package is the first of a "list of ambitious legislative proposals" the Commission wants to enact in the energy sector, 90% of which he says will be put forward before the end of next year. 

    He adds that this will allow the EU executive to ensure the measures are implemented before the end of its mandate in 2019.  

    Maros Sefcovic
  16. Energy package debate begins

    That’s the voting session finished.

    Next, MEPs are going to be debating the Commission’s new “summer energy package”, which it finalised earlier this morning.

    The package consists of two new EU laws: one to change the energy efficiency labelling of household appliances, and another to alter the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).

    The ETS allows power and manufacturing plants to buy and sell emissions “allowances” that authorise them to emit certain greenhouse gases – within an overall agreed limit.

    The aim is that requiring companies to buy or draw on their reserves of allowances gives them a permanent incentive to reduce their emissions. 

    Power station
    Image caption: EU countries have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
  17. Resolution passed

    The draft joint resolution calls for new EU laws to be subjected to “competitiveness tests” that will examine their likely impact on smaller business – a measure designed to “remove red tape at all levels”.

    It also urges the Commission to explore “all options” for strengthening the EU’s single currency area.

    The final lengthy resolution, with all its amendments, is eventually passed. 

  18. Votes soon

    That’s the debate on this month’s UN development summit in New York finished.

    MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s very short voting session, at which the only item of business will be a vote on a non-binding resolution setting forth Parliament’s opinion on the European Commission’s legislative programme for next year.

    A joint resolution has been agreed between the centre-right EPP and centre-left Socialist and Democrats groups, as well as the Liberal and Green groups - however, there will be votes on amendments. 

    The Commission is due to unveil its plans for the year ahead at a plenary sitting of the Parliament next month. 

  19. Investment records of private companies

    Summing up this short debate on development for the Commission, Frans Timmermans reiterates the point he made about the need for "coherence" in development policy. 

    He adds that in many areas, the EU is "shamed" by the record of private companies, who he says often take a "more forward looking" attitude to development policy than politicians. 

    Frans Timmermans
  20. Action needed now

    UKIP's Nathan Gill tells MEPs that he fears the 17 new UN development goals will not be achievable, noting that the previous 8 millennium development goals (MDGs) were not achieved despite being "meaningful and noble". 

    He also criticises the UN approach of placing too much emphasis on the long-term, rather than "what needs to be done now". 

    Nathan Gill
  21. Change attitudes to poorer countries

    Spanish left-winger Marina Albiol Guzman says that nothing will really change without a change in the global economy and from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's attitude to poor countries. 

    She also accuses the EU of adopting "colonial" trade policies with developing countries and of "bleeding them dry" of resources. 

    Adding that EU development aid will only "add a sticking plaster" to the problem of world poverty, she calls for the debt of poor countries to be wiped out. 

    Marina Albiol Guzman
  22. The world's poorest, most vulnerable

    Labour MEP Linda McAvan says there is a need to find strong agreements on tackling climate change, arguing that it is the world's poorest who are most vulnerable to the changes it brings. 

    On the matter of development pledges, she says it is "not enough" for EU member states to simply say that they will commit to the 0.7% target, but that developing countries need to "see the money" now. 

    Linda McAvan
    Image caption: Labour's Linda McAvan chairs the Parliament's Development Committee
  23. Greater coherence

    Speaking for the Commission, Frans Timmermans tells MEPs that fostering a more successful development policy will require creating greater "coherence" between development policies both within the EU and worldwide.

    He admits that it is a "reality" that the different policy divisions of the Commission have in the past produced policies that have contained "contradictions".

    He adds that the 17 goals contained in the UN's new 2030 development strategy will be a "landmark achievement" - and something the EU has been advocating for a long time.

    He asks MEPs to do their best to convince the national governments in their home countries to fulfill the "modest objective" of spending 0.7% of their GDPs on overseas aid.  

    Frans Timmermans
  24. Development and the EU

    The EU’s development policy is a key instrument in its relations with countries outside the 28-member bloc, and contains the long-term aim of eradicating poverty worldwide.

    However, budget constraints have seen EU member states cut the amount of money they have been giving in overseas aid over the last few years.

    Member states pledged in 2005 to raise their aid contributions – known as their Official Development Assistance (ODA) – to 0.7% of GDP by this year.

    Countries that joined the EU after 2004 have made a less ambitious commitment of giving 0.33%.

    The UK is one of only four countries currently meeting its target.

  25. 'Absolute priority'

    Luxembourg employment minister Nicolas Schmit opens the debate on behalf of the EU's Council of Ministers. 

    Drawing a comparison that is probably likely to be repeated during the debate, he tells MEPs that the migration crisis and EU development policy are closely linked. 

    Adding that in a globalised world, the EU is not immune to being affected by "poverty elsewhere", building a strong development strategy and the implementing the UN's 2030 development goals must be an "absolute priority" for the bloc. 

    He says that among those at Europe's borders, there are numbers of people fleeing not war but poverty, and urges the need to build a global economy that "does not condemn millions of people to abject misery". 

    Nicolas Schmit
  26. Debate on UN summit

    That’s this afternoon’s debate on the migration crisis over.

    Next, MEPs are going to be debating this month’s UN summit on sustainable development, Frans Timmermans again representing the Commission. 

    The European Parliament is sending a delegation of MEPs to the summit, led by Labour MEP Linda McAvan.

    The UN is due to review its time-bound targets for reducing poverty, renewing the so-called “Millennium Development Goals” (or MDGs) that were set in 2000.

    MEPs will also be discussing the development-related aspects of efforts to find a new international deal on climate change before the end of the year.

  27. Testing the values of the union

    Summing up for the Commission, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tells MEPs that the crisis "tests the values of the union and the credibility of Europe". 

    He adds that it also tests the ability of EU institutions to act quickly to find solutions. 

    He stresses that the resumption of border checks within the Schengen zone is "explicitly" provided for in the EU's treaties - but only as a temporary measure. 

    He adds that the Commission is following developments within the Schengen area "closely". 

    In a possible warning in relation to the developing events at Hungary's borders, he says that guarding borders by "violent means" would not be compatible with EU values. 

    Dimitris Avramopoulos
  28. Shock

    Reacting to the news of the use of water cannon on Hungary's border with Serbia, Labour MEP Claude Moraes says the pictures emerging from the border are "shocking".

    He tells his colleagues that they should consider "what these pictures are saying about the European Union". 

    Claude Moraes
  29. Developments on Hungary-Serbia border

    BBC News tweets:

  30. No national solution

    Swedish centre-right MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt also calls for greater solidarity between states to solve the issue, telling her colleagues that there is no "national solution" to solve such a "biblical" exodus of people from Africa and the Middle East. 

    She adds that the current numbers for quota suggested by the Commission are unlikely to be enough, but that the EU should welcome everyone who seeks to claim asylum. 

    However, she says that Europe cannot accept all economic migrants, and calls for better registration of refugees when they arrive inside the EU's borders. 

    Anna Maria Corazza Bildt
  31. What’s the European Parliament’s position?

    MEPs have called several times for EU member states to co-operate more closely on how to solve the migration crisis.

    At their plenary session last week, they passed a resolution repeating their calls for member states to back the Commission’s plans for mandatory quotas.

    In addition, it asked for a mandatory redistribution quota to be written into the EU’s Dublin regulation – which currently states that asylum seekers should have their applications processed in their first country of arrival.

    It added that any scheme to deal with the crisis should, “as far as possible”, take into account the preferences of refugees. 

  32. Not a blanket invitation

    Parliament Veteran Elmar Brok, a German MEP from Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, says he is "proud" of the response shown to the crisis by his country's chancellor. 

    He adds that Germany has not extended a "blanket invitation" to all migrants, but offered a solution that would improve the conditions for refugees in Europe. 

    He tells MEPs that Europe will need to seek greater international co-operation to solve the long-term causes of the crisis, particularly to curb the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and launch a new policy with African countries. 

    Elmar Brok
  33. 'Bully-boy tactics'

    UKIP's Diane James tells MEPs that Germany is "the source of the problem", due to its "siren call" to welcome large number of refugees. 

    She criticises the country for wishing to "offload" the consequences of its decision onto other EU countries by using "bully-boy tactics". 

    She adds that the comments from the German interior minister suggesting that EU funding could be reduced for countries that refuse to co-operate with the quota plan are a "veiled threat". 

    Diane James
  34. 'Concrete action'

    Swedish liberal Cecilia Wikstrom says she deplores the outcome of Monday's meeting. 

    Adding that unanimous support is not required among EU countries to pass the quota, but only a qualified majority, she says the Council presidency should have pushed the matter to a vote. 

    She concludes that the EU does not need "unanimity" on the issue, but urgent "concrete action". 

    Cecilia Wikstrom
  35. Schengen difficulties

    The migration crisis has seen an effective break-down in the EU’s passport-free Schengen area, with a number of EU countries deciding to re-impose border controls.

    A total of 22 EU countries are part of the scheme - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK are the only countries outside it.

    The reintroduction of controls is allowed under EU rules, but only as a temporary measure in response to an emergency situation.

    This is not the first time that border checks have been reintroduced within the area - Austria, Portugal and Germany have done so for major sporting events, whilst France re-imposed border controls after the bomb attacks on London in 2005.

    Yesterday, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs that he expected normal Schengen rules to be resumed “very soon” and that the Commission would “never permit” the area’s  long-term future to be put in doubt. 

    Border check
    Image caption: Several EU states have followed Germany’s suit in reimposing some controls at borders
  36. 'Massive integration problems'

    There's an impassioned intervention from French Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who declares that France has had "massive integration problems" and is not in a position to take in greater numbers of migrants. 

    She says the EU needs to have a "firm and clear" policy to stop the flow of migration to Europe's borders, instead of the "chaos" that followed Monday's meeting. 

    She calls for an end to the Schengen area, and for Europe to "close its borders". 

    She also takes a swipe at Parliament President Martin Schulz, whom she accuses of "anti-democratic tendencies". 

    Her speech is greeted with loud applause, but also many boos. 

  37. 'Abusing' the lack of EU policy

    Liberal group leader and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt says there is no denying that last Monday's meeting of home affairs ministers was a "failure", and calls for an urgent meeting of EU heads of state and government to continue talks. 

    He adds that economic migrants are "abusing" the lack of an EU-wide policy on economic migration. 

    Guy Verhofstadt
  38. 'Less finger-pointing'

    British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope, speaking on behalf of the ECR group, calls for a solution to the crisis to be taken in a "spirit of consultation". 

    He says that although "much" of the Commission's proposals are "correct", it is clear that certain member states oppose the idea of mandatory quotas. 

    He adds that it is not productive to accuse countries that have different solutions of being "less European", underlining that the EU remains a union of 28 member states and not  "one or two European leaders".

    Calling for "less finger-pointing" at next week's meeting, he says that countries that do not accept quotas should be asked what else they can do to help solve the crisis. 

    Timothy Kirkhope
  39. 'Solidarity' is needed

    Socialist and Democrat group leader and Italian MEP Gianni Pitella urges his colleagues to get behind the Commission's quota plans, adding that greater "solidarity" is needed between states to solve the crisis. 

    In a swipe at the Hungarian government, he argues that "barbed wire and fences are not the the answer to such a challenge". 

     "We are ready, so let's see that the Council is ready", he adds.  

    Gianni Pitella
  40. Mandatory quota saga

    The Commission, backed by Germany, has urged member states to support mandatory quotas to ease the burden of processing asylum applications on frontline states such as Italy and Greece.

    However, it has faced opposition from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

    The Commission’s latest proposal – to redistribute 120,000 asylum seekers from Greece, Italy and Hungary using mandatory quotas – failed to find unanimous agreement on Monday.

    A commitment to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers “in principle” remained in the conclusions of the meeting – although details of how this would work were not agreed.

    German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere suggested on Tuesday there should be ways of "exerting pressure" on states that refused the quota plans, possibly by reducing the amount of EU funding they receive.

    The Czech state secretary for the EU, Tomas Prouza, said such threats were "empty but very damaging to all".

    Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has been particularly scathing about the plan, having described it as “mad and unfair”. 

    Migrant quota numbers
    Image caption: The European Commission has set out plans to distribute a total of 160,000 asylum seekers across the EU
  41. Commissioner warns that 'winter is coming' for EU

    Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans begins by telling MEPs that he is sure they have heard the expression "winter is coming" from the hit US television show Game of Thrones. 

    He says that not only is winter coming soon for the refugees massing on Europe's borders, but also that winter is coming "in a metaphorical sense" for the EU if continues leave the situation unresolved. 

    Stating that the bloc has "no time to lose", he continues that increased suffering for refugees and "political turmoil" in member states will follow if a solution is not found. 

    He adds that countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey that have taken in large numbers of refugees "deserve far more support" from EU countries. 

    "We can deal with this if we are united, but we will continue to fail if we are divided", he concludes. 

    Frans Timmermans
  42. Council response

    Jean Asselborn tells MEPs that formally approving plans to redistribute 40,000 asylum seekers is a "first step" to finding a solution to the crisis. 

    Luxembourg currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, meaning it chairs meetings of national ministers in the EU's Council of Ministers. 

    He says that although "most countries" agreed with relocation quotas, finding further agreement on the plans "will not be easy".

    He adds that Hungary, after having stated that it does not consider itself a "frontline" state in the crisis, does not want to participate in the quota scheme. 

    He adds that the Commission proposals from last week will continue as a "basis" of discussions on the issue. 

    Jean Asselborn
  43. Migration debate begins

    With the agenda approved, MEPs will now take their seats to listen to deputy Commission chief Frans Timmermans, who will open a debate of negotiations on the EU’s migration crisis.

    MEPs will also be debating the issue with Luxembourg's immigration minister Jean Asselborn, representing the EU Council of member state governments, and Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Migration Commissioner. 

    EU home affairs ministers failed on Monday to find unanimous agreement on Commission plans to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Greece, Italy and Hungary among other EU countries using mandatory quotas.

    They did however, finalise plans to redistribute 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece over the next two years according to voluntary quotas – a plan first announced back in May.

    Germany and Austria are calling for a special meeting of EU leaders next week to discuss the crisis. 

  44. Emergency vote tomorrow

    President Schulz proposes that MEPs hold an emergency vote tomorrow to vote on the Commission’s plans to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Greece, Italy and Hungary using binding quotas.

    The vote would allow the Parliament to quickly state its position to the plan ahead of another meeting of EU home affairs ministers next week, using the “emergency procedure” in its rules.

    President Schulz says there is "every justification" for using this procedure given the circumstances and the need to find a "European-level" solution. 

    Speaking in favour of the idea, Labour MEP Claude Moraes, who chairs Parliament's civil liberties committee, adds that it is "vitally clear" that the Parliament must "speak urgently" on the issue. 

    Speaking against, German Conservative Bernd Lucke says the Parliament should avoid reacting "over-hastily" and should take a greater examination of the Commission's measures first. 

    "It's not on" he says  "that we're just nodding this through".. 

    However, the proposal is endorsed on a show of hands - and will take place tomorrow at 10.00 BST. 

    Martin Schulz
  45. Good afternoon

    Hello and welcome to coverage of today’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Brussels, which will be opened shortly by Parliament President Martin Schulz.

    The sitting will begin with administrative announcements, after which MEPs will have the chance to request additions or changes to this week’s agenda or make points of order.

    Proposals to change the agenda have to be made to the President at least one hour before the sitting opens, and can be tabled by one of the Parliament’s committees, one of its political groups, or a group of 40 MEPs.

    In order to be formally added, an item must be approved by a simple majority – and can be done on a show of hands.