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Summary

  1. The sitting began at 14.00 GMT with a statement on the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey for next year.
  2. After that, MEPs debated future EU regulation of the aviation industry.
  3. At the voting session from 18.00 GMT, they approved a non-binding resolution recommending changes to the laws governing European Parliament elections.
  4. In the afternoon, they discussed "zero rating" in the mobile sector, funding for two EU funds for Syria and African countries, and EU funding for schemes aiming to tackle violence against women.
  5. The session closed with a round of short topical speeches and explanations of votes.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    And with the short speeches and explanations of votes finished, tonight's "mini plenary" sitting draws to a close. 

    You can join us tomorrow for coverage of Mario Draghi's appearance before the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. 

  2. Short speeches begin

    That’s the debate finished on the EU’s Daphne programmes, which aim to reduce violence against women.

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

    This item of business, traditionally also held during the Monday sitting during full plenary weeks, is normally used by MEPs to make points about topical issues or stories of interest to their country or region.

    This will be followed by short speeches from MEPs who wish to explain how they voted at today’s voting session. 

  3. Questions on 'transparency' of EU-level funding

    UKIP MEP Margot Parker, however, says that whilst it would be hard to disagree with the aims of the Daphne scheme, there are questions over the "accountability and transparency" of funds that are spent by the EU. 

    She adds that the EU has a tendency to "squander money", and that leaving the bloc would allow the UK to spend more on its own such schemes.  

    Margot Parker
  4. Tribute to Women's Aid

    Labour MEP Clare Moody says UK charity Women's Aid is an example of an organisation that has received EU funds in this area. 

    She pays tribute to the charity's staff, who she says have worked "tirelessly" to help protect women from violence. 

    Clare Moody
    Image caption: Clare Moody
  5. Fighting violence 'high on agenda' for Commission

    Gender Equality Commissioner Vera Jourova tells MEPs that she agrees the timetabling of debates on this issue are "rather problematic". 

    She adds that the timing gives the impression that it is a "second level" topic.

    In response to the main query, she says that the amount of money allocated to "Daphne-specific objectives" is €14m in the Commission's programme for this year. 

    She adds that she wants to make it clear that although the name of the scheme has changed, its objectives "remain high on the agenda" for the Commission.  

    Vera Jourova
  6. Call for clarity on funding

    Spanish Socialist Iratxe Garvia Perez, from the women's rights committee, begins her speech by complaining at the late scheduling of the debate. 

    She adds that debates on violence against women "tend to be demoted to the darkest hours of plenary". 

    Adding that violence against women is a "terrible scourge in society", she says she regrets that the Daphne programme is due to be merged with into an overall scheme aiming to reduce violence against women, children minors and "other risk groups".

    She says they are seeking further clarity on what measures will be possible under the new arrangements.  

    Iratxe Garvia Perez
  7. Debate on violence reduction schemes begins

    That’s the debate on the EU “trust funds” for Syria and Africa finished.

    Next, there’s an oral question from the women’s rights committee on EU Daphne programmes, which aim to reduce violence against women and girls.

    Members of the committee are asking the Commission what place the Daphne schemes will have within the EU’s new Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme.

    They also want to seek greater clarity on how much money from the EU budget will be spent on programmes to combat violence against women. 

    Woman shelters from violent threat
  8. Crisis requires 'global response'

    Summing up for the Commission, Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says she agrees that the crisis requires a "global response". 

    She adds that it is important that "everyone who has the means to do so" contributes to aid efforts. 

    She reiterates that the way to deal with a humanitarian crisis is to "not have it in the first place". 

    Perhaps in response to some of the British MEPs who spoke during the debate, she says the UK government has ranked the EU as a "top performer" in delivering development aid. 

    Kristalina Georgieva
  9. Funds must have 'genuine new money'

    Labour MEP Richard Howitt tells MEPs that he is participating in tonight's debate having earlier been at the Valletta summit. 

    He says it is important that both proposed funds are able to attract "genuine new money", and do not turn out to be a cover for "reassigning existing funds".

    Arguing that the schemes can help to "co-ordinate" aid from a number of different countries, he adds that development spending can create a better future for potential refugees "in the countries in which they are based".  

    Richard Howitt
  10. UKIP MEP: EU's trade with Africa is 'proto-colonial'

    UKIP migration spokesman Steven Woolfe says that the EU is "no friend of Africa", adding that turmoil in the region has been worsened by European support for regime change in Libya. 

    Giving the example of high EU tariffs on coffee imports, he tells MEPs that the "proto-colonial" economic policy of the EU towards Africa is "driving down the ability of that continent to survive".  

    Steven Woolfe
  11. 'Effectiveness' of spending must be monitored

    Croatian centre-right MEP Davo Ivo Stier says he welcomes the Commission's proposed scheme for Africa, but that EU countries must "show they are serious" when it comes to collecting funds.

    However, he stresses that the "effectiveness" of the aid must be closely monitored, and that MEPs will be expecting "comprehensive" information from the Commission in this area. 

    Davo Ivo Stier
  12. Background on today’s Valletta summit

    More than 60 leaders from Africa and Europe, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, are meeting in Valletta in Malta for the two-day summit to discuss the mass movement of people.

    The aim of the Africa trust fund under discussion is to tackle the economic and security problems that cause people to flee, and persuade African countries to take back more failed asylum seekers.

    The UN says nearly 800,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015, while some 350,000 have died or gone missing making the journey.

    EU leaders have agreed a controversial programme to relocate thousands of migrants - but so far only around 130 have been successfully moved from Greece and Italy. 

  13. Commissioner: aid spending in Europe's 'self-interest'

    Outlining the arguments in favour of the Commission's 'trust fund' proposals, Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says that aid to Africa is not just just "morally right" but "in our own self-interest". 

    She adds that the Commission's fund will allow EU countries to "tackle the root causes of migration" by creating employment and schemes for "refugee management". 

    She adds that she hopes to see "additional resources" committed by member states at the Valletta summit. 

    She says she also holds hope that non-EU countries will contribute towards the Syria fund. 

    Kristalina Georgieva
  14. Luxembourg minister: states have made 'a number of commitments'

    Speaking again on behalf of the Council of Ministers, Luxembourg employment minister Nicolas Schmit says that member states have "not stood by" during the crisis, but that the problems of the migration crisis are "complex by nature". 

    He highlights in particular that member states have made "a number of commitments", including €4bn in support to humanitarian organisations. 

    He tells MEPs that he is not able, however, to give "specific pledges" from the member states towards the fund, particularly whilst the summit is still ongoing. 

    Nicolas Schmit
  15. Debate on EU aid schemes begins

    That’s the debate on “net neutrality” finished.

    Next, MEPs are debating two proposed EU “trust funds” for Syria and Africa, intended as a response to stemming to the flow of migrants to Europe.

    The funds are intended initially to help humanitarian efforts, but then to help development to reduce the likelihood of massive migration in the future.

    It comes as EU leaders are expected to offer countries in Africa billions of euros in exchange for help with the migrant crisis at a summit in Malta beginning today.

    The Commission has pledged €1.8bn for the Africa scheme from the EU budget, which it says it expects the 28 EU states to match with their own national contributions.

    However, so far around €1.7bn of the 1.8bn still remains to be given by member states.  

    Migrants near the village of Berkasovo in Serbia
    Image caption: Migrants near the village of Berkasovo in Serbia
  16. Commissioner calls for 'trust' on protecting open internet

    Summing up for the Commission, Digital Economy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger tells MEPs that the new rules will give EU consumers"far more rights than today" that will leave them "less subject to discrimination".

    Referring to the result of the vote last month, he says the eventual text was clearly "what the majority wanted". 

    He adds that some of the interventions on zero rating he heard during the debate were "way off the mark" and "make no sense at all".

    He says that if national regulators do not do their job, then "we will be in touch with them". 

    "Why don't you trust me?", he adds. 

    Gunther Oettinger
  17. Bans 'not the right way' to embrace digital revolution

    Vicky Ford
    Image caption: Vicky Ford

    UK Conservative MEP Vicky Ford says the principle of an open internet was guaranteed by the terms of the recently-approved telecoms regulation. 

    She adds that the left-leaning MEPs are simply trying to "pick and choose" which deals phone providers can offer to their customers. 

    "Consumers should have that choice", she says, before adding that introducing "haphazard bans" is not the "right way to approach the digital revolution". 

    However, Estonian liberal Kaja Kallas disagrees, arguing that zero rating schemes "do eventually lead to a closed internet". 

    Adding that this risks reducing innovation in the digital sector, she calls on the Commission to present "clear solutions" on zero rating, to be applied across the EU in a "uniform way". 

    Kaja Kallas
    Image caption: Kaja Kallas
  18. Centre-left misgivings 'entirely justified'

    Spanish centre-right MEP Pilar del Castillo Vera says an outright ban on all zero rating might not benefit consumers. 

    She tells MEPs  that banning it without demonstrating that it runs against competition would count as "interventionism in the market".

    She adds that provisions in telecoms regulation preventing zero rating that limits the choice of consumers "couldn't be more clear". 

    German social democrat Evelyne Gebhardt, however, says the practice is a "way of undermining net neutrality".  

    She says that, having listened to the speeches from the Council and Commission, the misgivings of her centre-left group are "entirely justified". 

    Pilar del Castillo Vera
    Image caption: Pilar del Castillo Vera
    Evelyne Gebhardt
    Image caption: Evelyne Gebhardt
  19. Commissioner: open access 'guaranteed'

    Digital Economy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger says there is no contradiction between the position of member states and the Commission. 

    He says a "strong non-discrimination clause" endorsed at the vote will guarantee open access to the internet. 

    He adds that safeguards included in the legislation will make sure the rights of users will ultimately remain "at the forefront" of regulation. 

    "I trust the national regulators to be independent", he adds. 

    Gunther Oettinger
  20. Schmit: zero rating has risks and benefits

    Luxembourg employment minister Nicolas Schmit kicks the debate off with a speech on behalf of Luxembourg's current presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.

    He tells MEPs that he was glad amendments to the recent regulation calling for national authorities to be able to ban zero rating were rejected, arguing that a "proliferation of national legislation" might have endangered the goal of creating a single market for digital services. 

    He adds that although the practice of zero rating does entail "certain risks", it also brings certain benefits.  

    Nicolas Schmit
  21. Background on recent Parliament net vote

    Internet server

    MEPs recently voted on “net neutrality” legislation when they gave their final approval to an EU regulation on telecoms rules at their plenary session last month.

    The new rules state that internet service providers must treat internet traffic freely, without “discrimination, restriction or interference”.

    However, the text – which was provisionally agreed with member states back in June – does not specifically ban the practice of zero-rating.

    The left-wing and Green groups in the Parliament tabled a series of amendments to the legislation, which they said would strengthen the provisions relating to net neutrality.

    However, these were defeated at the final vote.

    It is thought that many MEPs were reluctant to begin a process of amending the legislation given that it might have delayed the introduction of a ban on mobile data roaming charges, which was also included in the same regulation. 

  22. Debate on 'zero rating' begins

    That’s the voting session finished. 

    Next, MEPs will hear a statement from Digital Economy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on the practice of “zero rating” within the EU. 

    This is when phone companies do not charge customers for mobile data used when they access certain websites or apps.

    Telecoms companies say the practice benefits customers, by allowing them access to certain services without having to worry about going over their download limit and incurring large costs.

    However, consumer groups have argued that zero-rating allows companies to give exemptions to apps or services that they own, thereby distorting the market for digital goods.

    Activists have also said the practice violates the principle of “net neutrality” – where internet service providers allow equal treatment of internet traffic. 

    Mobile phone
  23. MEPs call for changes to Parliament election rules

    MEPs pass their non-binding resolution calling for changes to the laws governing elections to the European Parliament.

    The recommendations will only become law if all 28 EU states agree to them.

    Notably, the resolution calls for an obligatory threshold of between 3-5% of the vote to be reached by political parties before they can gain representation.

    EU law contains a threshold of 5% at the moment, but this is only voluntary.

    So far, only 15 of the 28 EU states have actually decided to implement national thresholds. 

    The European Parliament building in Strasbourg
    Image caption: The European Parliament building in Strasbourg
  24. MEPs set out recommendations for aviation industry

    MEPs also pass their resolution calling for reforms to the EU aviation industry, which they debated earlier today. 

    The Commission has said it will come up with a package of measures to increase the competitiveness of the sector in the EU by the end of the year.

    Scroll down the page for more information about the debate. 

  25. MEPs back administrative co-operation scheme

    MEPs do give their first reading backing to the scheme to boost administrative co-operation between national governments. 

    Vote graphic
  26. Voting to begin soon

    That’s the debate on regulation of the aviation sector finished. MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session.

    MEPs’ recommendations for improving the EU aviation sector will be put to a resolution vote, along with a separate resolution recommending changes to the laws surrounding European Parliament elections.

    The Parliament does not have the right to change the laws – but its resolution will form a recommendation that could become binding if all member states agree to it.

    The only piece of legislation to be put to the vote is an EU decision to set up a programme to boost electronic sharing of information between administrative departments in the member states.

    Parliament’s industry committee has endorsed the programme, whilst also adding a number of amendments.

    MEPs will vote to set out their “first reading” position today, before more detailed negotiation can begin with the national governments. 

  27. Commissioner: state subsidies 'not yet proven'

    Summing up for the Commission, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc tells MEPs that the Commission supports the promotion of fair competition in the sector using "different tools".

    She adds that subsidies for airlines are "not yet proven", and in any case even if they are, it still needs to be proved that they have had a "negative impact" on EU operators. 

    She adds that the EU aviation industry faces a lack of competitiveness for a "number of reasons". 

    Violeta Bulc
  28. Call not to 'underestimate' safety factors

    Czech social democrat Olga Sehnalova "must not underestimate" the importance of safety standards to the future of the industry. 

    UK Conservative Daniel Dalton highlights the contribution made by the expansion of low-cost carriers to the EU economy, which he says has done more than "countless billions" in regional aid schemes. 

    Responding to some of the comments made by Green MEPs earlier in the debate, he says that the aviation industry is "not free of tax".

    In fact, he says that existing airport taxes place a burden on future growth and "should be scrapped" to increase the sector's competitiveness.  

    Olga Sehnalova
    Image caption: Olga Sehnalova
  29. Protectionism 'not the way out'

    Spanish Socialist Ines Ayala Sender calls on the Commission's measures to respect the right of passengers to safety and a good level of service. 

    She adds that the eventual package needs to conserve access to smaller regional airports. 

    Czech liberal Pavel Telicka says the Commission will have to "have a look at the internal market" and the issue of competition from non-EU carriers, but urges that "protectionism is not the way out" of the problem. 

    Ines Ayala Sender
  30. ECR to vote against joint resolution

    UK Conservative MEP Jacqueline Foster tells MEPs that although she agrees with a "great deal" in the joint resolution, the ECR group will not be supporting it at the vote. 

    She adds that as long as non-EU operators are respecting the terms of their service agreements, it is not the EU's role to determine how they operate. 

    She suggests that "interference" in this area could end up damaging the EU economy. 

    She also adds that although existing EU employment legislation in this area "should be maintained", the additional suggestions in the resolution are "overly prescriptive" and intrude into areas better regulated at a national level. 

    Jacqueline Foster
  31. EU 'cannot overlook' subsidised airlines

    German social democrat Ismail Ertug tells MEPs that the EU "cannot overlook" problems with international competition in the aviation industry. 

    He says the EU needs to "make it clear" that some airlines, particularly in Asia and the Gulf states, are in receipt of "state aid" from their national governments. 

    He adds that the EU should not "retaliate" by closing its borders to  carriers, but work towards an international strategy to ensure a "level laying field" in the sector worldwide. 

    Ismail Ertug
  32. What's in the resolution?

    A draft  joint resolution, agreed between the main centre-right and centre-left groups, as well as the liberals, calls for improved medical assessments for pilots in the EU.

    It also expressed concern about the use of zero-hours contracts in the sector, as well as “pay-to-fly” contracts for newly qualified pilots.

    Some have argued that the contracts, which allow pilots to pay for work to gain flight experience, represent a risk to passenger safety.

    It also urges the Commission to do more to stop state-subsidised airlines from non-EU countries operating within the European aviation sector. 

    Plane
  33. Commission: regulation must respect 'EU standards'

    Commissioner Bulc tells MEPs that the package of new measures, to be announced in early December, will "help shape the future" of the aviation industry in Europe. 

    She says EU operators face "new and relentless" competition from Asia and the Middle East, and says she agrees with MEPs in their resolution that a "long-term" approach is required. 

    She adds that access to the EU aviation market should be based on a "regulatory framework that promotes EU values and standards". 

    Specifically, she adds that the Commission is considering "new measures" to address "unfair competition" from some non-EU airlines in receipt of state subsidies. 

    Commissioner Bulc
  34. Aviation debate begins

    That’s the debate on the EU’s Annual Growth Survey finished.

    Next, MEPs will hear a statement from Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc about future EU regulation of the aviation industry.

    The Commission says it will announce a package of measures aiming to make the sector more internationally competitive by the end of this year.

    MEPs will vote this evening on a non-binding resolution outlining their proposals. 

  35. Reducing poverty 'important policy goal'

    Summing up for the Commission, Euro Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis responds to some criticism from the left-leaning MEPs by saying that reducing poverty and unemployment are "important policy goals" for the EU executive. 

    He says the next Semester programme will be "balanced" and include steps to "strengthen job creation". 

    Valdis Dombrovskis
  36. Call to increase domestic wages

    Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds calls on the Commissioner to ensure that next year's strategy should "rectify" the problem of competitive wage devaluation.

    Adding that domestic consumption within the EU has fallen as a result of low wages, she says that increasing salaries could prove one of the most "effective and sustainable" ways of increasing demand, reducing the need to rely on foreign markets.  

    Anneliese Dodds
  37. Call for 'principles' over 'plans'

    Richard Sulik

    Slovakian Conservative Richard Sulik says the recommendations made under the Semester programme are "unrealistic and often useless".

    He says that the EU would be better off basing economic recovery not on "plans" but "principles", such as the maintenance of common rules and reducing bureaucracy.  

  38. UKIP MEP: Euro could reawaken 'national hostilities'

    UKIP's economics spokesman Patrick O'Flynn says that for all the "grand talk" about reforms and investment, the EU is set to see another year of "paltry growth".

    He places the blame for this on the Eurozone itself, which he says has locked southern European countries into a "straitjacket" by forcing them to share a common exchange rate with Germany. 

    Adding that the single currency could reawaken the "latent national hostilities" it sought to banish, he tells MEPs:  

    Quote Message: I am full of sorrow that you cannot see the folly of your ways."
    Patrick O'Flynn
  39. Banking on foreign demand 'risky' approach

    Italian social democrat Roberto Gualtieri, who chairs the Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, tells MEPs that looking solely at foreign demand as a source of growth is a "risky" strategy. 

    He adds that the ECB's quantitative easing programme, which it launched earlier this year, will not "solve all the problems", but that recovery will be dependent also on reforms to EU economies. 

    UK Conservative Anthea McIntyre picks up on an idea recently suggested by top EU officials for the creation of a "European pillar of social rights".

    Stating her opposition to the idea, she says that the Eurozone is where the plan is directed and "frankly where it should stay".  

    Roberto Gualtieri
    Anthea McIntyre
  40. Semester a 'disaster'

    Finnish liberal Nils Torvalds accuses national governments of "Schizophrenia" in their attitude to the European Semester, by agreeing to targets and then "ignoring" them. 

    German left-winger Fabio de Masi, however, says the Semester programme has been a "European disaster".

    He says that it is a good thing that national governments are failing to implement the economic policies recommended by the Commission, or else the economic situation in the Eurozone would be "even worse". 

    Nils Torvalds
    Image caption: Nils Torvalds speaking in the Brussels chamber
  41. Competitiveness and investment

    On behalf of the centre-right EPP group, German Christian democrat Burkhard Balz says next year's Semester should focus on improving the EU's competitiveness whilst not undermining the "national approaches" in member states. 

    On behalf of the centre-left group,Portuguese Socialist Maria Joao Rodrigues says that whilst improving the EU's competitiveness is important, there is also a need to invest more in growing European domestic demand rather than focusing on exports. 

    Burkhard Balz
  42. What is the “European Semester”?

    The somewhat confusingly-named “Semester” is the name for the annual programme by which the Commission monitors and issues recommendations on the economic policies of the member states.

    The programme was introduced five years ago in the wake of the financial crisis.

    The publication of the Growth Survey in the autumn marks the start of the process. This is followed by the issuing of “Country-Specific Recommendations”, or CPRs, the following spring.

    The recommendations are meant to guide EU states in how to meet the terms of various agreed rules on maximum debt and deficit levels.

    However, the process is also controversial because critics say the European Commission lacks the democratic legitimacy to tell governments how to set up their budgets, particularly if cuts are being proposed.     

    European Commission
  43. Commissioner: process improved with fewer targets

    Commissioner Dombrovskis says the Commission has improved the European Semester process by publishing the country recommendations earlier, and concentrating on fewer, more "focused" targets. 

    He tells MEPs the next Semester process will concentrate on employment and "social matters", and continuing the recovery within the Euro area. 

    Commissioner Dombrovskis
  44. Growth survey debate begins

    With the agenda approved, MEPs will now move onto the first item on today’s agenda, a statement from Euro Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis on the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey for next year.

    The survey is the first stage in the European Semester, the annual process by which the Commission monitors the budgets of EU countries and makes recommendations as to how they could improve their economies.

    The Commission’s latest autumn economic forecasts, released last week, showed the EU was set for a “modest recovery” next year of around 2% across the 28-nation bloc.

    However, the report also warned that new challenges to growth were appearing, including the slowdown in China and emerging market economies, and geopolitical tensions. 

    Euro coin
  45. Steel debate rejected

    On behalf of the the Conservative ECR group, UK Conservative MEP Ashley Fox asks for this afternoon's debate on "zero rating" to be postponed, and replaced with a debate on the outcome of Monday’s meeting on the crisis in the steel industry called by UK business secretary Sajid Javid. 

    Speaking against the idea, Spanish MEP Enrique Guerrero Salom says the debate should be held at the plenary session later in the month to give MEPs more time to prepare. 

    The idea is eventually rejected by 301 votes to 112. 

    Ashley Fox
  46. Tributes open session

    Irish MEP and acting president Mairead McGuinness begins the session with a tribute to the victims of last month's nightclub fire in Bucharest and last week's crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai. 

    Mairead McGuinness
  47. Good afternoon

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

    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 add a debate to 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.