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  1. The sitting began at 07.30 GMT with a debate on a report into how well EU states are implementing the Commission's plans for an EU-wide "energy union".
  2. MEPs then debated new EU rules increasing the amount of information insurance companies have to give to consumers, which they later approved at the lunchtime voting session.
  3. In the afternoon, MEPs debated a report on tax avoidance in the EU, ways to tackle religious radicalisation of EU citizens and the crisis in the European steel industry.
  4. The sitting closed with debates on the EU's strategy for promoting workplace health and safety standards, and a debate on the "gender gap" in pension provision.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    And with that, this evening's sitting of the European Parliament draws to a close. 

    MEPs start tomorrow at 07.30 GMT, when they will be joined by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to debate how the EU should respond to the terror attacks earlier this month in Paris.

    MEPs will also hear a scheduled speech from Italian President Sergio Mattarella at 11.00 GMT, before they decide whether to sign off on the EU's budget for 2016 at the lunchtime voting session. 

    The afternoon sitting sees debates on the Valetta summit on migration earlier this month, and external relations debates on events in Burundi, Myanmar, Georgia and Moldova.   

  2. Pensions gap 'entirely unacceptable'

    Commissioner Thyssen tells MEPs that the pension gap between the sexes in the EU is "entirely unacceptable".

    She adds that it varies widely between member states, showing that national policies "do make a difference". 

    She says the Commission will be spending €4m next year on raising awareness about the gap and related issues across the EU. 

    She says that there is a need for clearer information on pensions, and that Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, will be updating its figures more regularly. 

    She adds, however, that due to the "almost continual" rise in female employment levels in recent years, "wider gender gaps" are closing. 

    Commissioner Thyssen
  3. Gender pension gap

    That’s the debate on the EU’s health and safety framework finished.

    Finally tonight, MEPs will hear another statement from employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen on tackling the so-called “gender pension gap” between men and women in the EU. 

  4. What’s in the MEPs’ resolution?

    The draft text says the Commission “has not set out specific targets” for a number of the objectives included in the current framework.

    It calls on the Commission, as well as national governments, to draw up “indicative reduction targets” for occupational diseases after the current strategy is reviewed next year.

    It also adds that national strategies for reducing health and safety incidents at work should be transparent, as well as being “open to input from social partners and civil society”. 

  5. Small businesses and regulation

    Anthea McIntyre
    Image caption: Anthea McIntyre

    UK Conservative Anthea McIntyre calls for a "simplified legal framework" to help small businesses implement EU health and safety standards. 

    A similar point is made by Romanian liberal Renate Weber, who says smaller businesses are creating 85% of new jobs in Europe but are "most encumbered" by excessive regulation. 

    Renate Weber
    Image caption: Renate Weber
  6. Debate on health and safety laws begins

    That’s the debate on Europe’s steel industry finished.

    Next, MEPs are going to be discussing changes to the EU’s “strategic framework” on health and safety in the workplace.

    The framework was updated in June last year for the 2014-2020 period.

    It includes recommendations to simplify legislation to remove “unnecessary burdens” from businesses, improving the performance of national workplace inspectors, and tackling new risks from emerging technologies such as nanomaterials and biotech practices. 

    MEPs will set out their recommendations for improving the framework in a resolution vote tomorrow. 

  7. Commission agrees with need for stronger action

    Summing up the debate for the Commission, industry commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska says that supporting a strong European steel sector is the "base for all of our actions". 

    He adds that EU states would be "stupid" to rely only on non-EU imports for their steel, and says there is a need for action at both a national and European level.

    She says she agrees with the need for a "stronger anti-dumping policy", but points out that the Commission is making some use of the existing tools. 

    She also tells MEPs that the Commission's plans for an "energy union" between EU states should bring down energy prices for steelmaking businesses. 

    Elżbieta Bienkowska
  8. Calls on Commission to act

    Yet more British MEPs contribute to the debate, with Labour's Jude Kirton-Darling calling for action in the steel industry from both national governments and the European Commission. 

    In particular, she says the EU needs to modernise and strengthen its trade defence tools, and give the steel workforce the ability to initiate complaints.

    Conservative Vicky Ford says the Commission needs to "fast-track" investigations against those breaking trade rules.  

    Vicky Ford
    Image caption: Vicky Ford
  9. 'Green dreams' aren't great for steel

    German Green Reinhard Burtikofer tells MEPs that the European steel industry would be "biting the hand that feeds it" by allowing the crisis to lead to a jettisoning of environmental policies. 

    He says that only investment can provide the "new uses for steel" necessary to give the sector a long-term future. 

    UKIP's Bill Etheridge says that the steel sector has seen a "fairly spectacular contraction" since the time when he worked in the industry, adding that it is 42% smaller than in 1990.

    He maintains that climate policies should take the blame for making UK steel uncompetitive, adding that EU policies amount to "persecution" of the sector "in the name of green dreams". 

    Reinhard Burtikofer
    Image caption: Reinhard Burtikofer
  10. Disagreements over UK steel decline

    Ashley Fox
    Image caption: Ashley Fox

    UK Conservative Ashley Fox says the plummeting price for steel is down to an "excess supply" of non-EU steel that has "flooded our markets".

    However, he adds that the EU has failed to take action in this area, whereas the United States, India and Brazil all have.

    He also lays blame at the door of EU climate policies, which he says have made the bloc's plants uncompetitive and "ultimately driven industries out of Europe". 

    In response, Luxembourg Green Claude Turmes says the UK industry would be able to benefit from lower energy costs if, like Scandinavia or Germany, it was more interconnected with other European energy markets. 

    He also says falling prices can also be explained by reduced demand among consumers caused by austerity policies. 

    Claude Turmes
    Image caption: Claude Turmes
  11. EU 'victim' of cheap steel

    French Socialist Edouard Martin, who has acted as the "rapporteur" of the resolution, tells MEPs that the EU is the "victim" of massive importation of steel from non-EU countries at "rock-bottom" prices.

    He says there are currently 350m tonnes of overcapacity in the Chinese economy alone, eclipsing demand from the EU.

    He says long-term contracts might be a way to solve the crisis. 

    He adds, however, that he has "bent over backwards" to make it clear in the resolution that sustaining competitiveness of the sector does not have to come at the expense of shelving policies to improve the environment. 

    Edouard Martin
  12. Debate on steel industry begins

    That’s the debate on tackling radicalisation finished.

    Next, MEPs will hear a statement from industry commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska on EU efforts to tackle the slump in the EU base metals industry, particularly in the steel sector.

    The issue recently hit the headlines in the UK following job losses at a number of British plants last month.

    Following an emergency meeting of EU industry ministers, the UK government announced that the steel industry will be refunded the cost of green levies on energy bills.

    The refunds are dependent on the Commission granting clearance for the scheme to confirm that it will not break EU state aid rules. 

    Critics have accused the EU institutions, as well as national governments, of not doing enough to prevent the “dumping” of state-subsidised Chinese steel imports on the EU market.

    MEPs will set out their position in a resolution vote at a plenary sitting next month. 

    Steelworks in Redcar
    Image caption: Redcar is just one of several places in the EU where jobs in the steel industry are under threat
  13. Green MEP on community policing

    Green MEP Jean Lambert says that her group's opposition to the airline data scheme is "well known".

    She adds that she and her colleagues believe the money could be more effectively spent on bolstering Europol, the EU's police agency, or the EU'sRadicalisation Awareness Network

    She adds that "community policing" can be an effective tool in highlighting the dangers of radicalisation, but that "this isn't going to happen if everyone from a particular social group is turned into a suspect". 

    Jean Lambert
  14. 'Difficult questions' on Saudi Arabia

    UK Conservative Charles Tannock says that the current EU security framework means many states are failing in their "primary duty" to protect their citizens.

    He says endorsing the EU scheme for the sharing of airline data would make the security situation more robust, but dealing with the problem fully will require an "all-encompassing strategy".

    However, he says he does not hold out hope that radicalisation can be fully prevented, given that its channels lie mainly "outside of the control of the state".

    He says instead the focus should be on a "security response" that tries to contain the danger as much as possible.

    He also says that "difficult questions" should be asked about what role countries such as Saudi Arabia might be playing in encouraging radicalisation. 

    Charles Tannock
  15. Terrorism 'must not demoralise' EU politicians

    Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says that they should not allow terror attacks to "demoralise" them.

    He highlights "crucial"new rules on firearms as part of the Commission's immediate response, and adds that the Commission is currently preparing new anti-trafficking measures that will boost security at the borders.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos
  16. MEPs must 'face up to responsibilities'

    Centre-right MEP and former French justice minister Rachida Dati has acted as the rapporteur - or lead negotiator - on the draft resolution text. 

    She tells MEPs that following the attacks in Paris, it is time for them to "face up to our responsibilities" when it comes to improving security within the EU.

    She highlights an EU scheme forcing airline companies to share passenger information - long delayed on civil liberties grounds by the Parliament - as a policy that could help security forces to more easily identify potential terrorists. 

    She also calls for the introduction of "systematic checks" on borders to increase monitoring of those moving between EU countries. 

    Rachida Dati
  17. Radicalisation debate begins

    That’s the debate on the EU’s budget for next year finished.

    Next, MEPs will debate an advisory resolution on preventing the radicalisation of EU citizens and how to deal with “home-grown” European jihadists returning from the Middle East.

    The debate was added to the agenda following the co-ordinated gun and bomb attacks by Islamist militants in Paris just over a week ago.

    The draft resolution, which will be voted on tomorrow, is likely to call for greater efforts to tackle radicalisation, particularly online and in prisons.

    It is also likely to call for greater sharing of information between national security services on suspected terrorists. 

  18. 'Best value' from EU spending

    Summing up for the Commission, budgets commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says they must focus on ways to achieve "best value" from the money provided by taxpayers.

    She says an upcoming mid-term review of the current long-term budget, running between last year and 2020, will provide an opportunity to "strengthen the focus" of EU spending.

    Kristalina Georgieva
  19. Funding on youth employment

    Romanian centre-right MEP Siegfried Muresan says he supports continued funding for the EU's Youth Employment Initiative

    He says the jobs scheme shows young people that they "are still a priority for decision-makers at a European level".

    His speech draws an intervention from UKIP's Bill Etheridge, who asks him if  "more controlled" levels of immigration into Europe might make it easier for young people to find work. 

    Mr Muresan replies that he does not quite understand his argument, but says he maintains that everything he said is  "valid no matter where people come from". 

  20. Budget 'timely and appropriate'

    Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth signals his approval of the budget deal, which he says was achieved in a "timely and appropriate" manner. 

    He says the amount of money set aside for helping small businesses was a "great effort within the constraints of a difficult budget", noting that the "most important thing" the budget can achieve is to deliver jobs and growth.

    He adds, however, that as pressures on the budget mount in future years due to rising public debt, there will be a need to focus spending on those areas that deliver "true added value" at an EU level. 

    Richard Ashworth
  21. Migration spending and future budgets

    UKIP's Jonathan Arnott says the "elephant in the room" in the budget text is the amount of money that has been slated for next year on measures to combat the migration crisis. 

    He says rises in this area have necessitated "all sorts of contortions" in other areas of the budget to find the money. 

    He adds that "frontloading" of migration spending in 2016 may also be "kicking the can down the road" by compromising future budgets.  

    Jonathan Arnott
  22. How is the EU budget set?

    The EU budget for each year must be within the limits specified by the long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which runs over a seven year period.

    Annual budgets are proposed by the Commission, but must gain the approval of national governments and the European Parliament before they can come into force.

    The long process over setting the budget normally begins each spring, when the Commission publishes its initial draft proposals.

    The national governments then take an initial position, normally in the summer, before MEPs adopt their stance in the autumn.

    If there is a difference between the positions, then “conciliation” talks begin, where the various participants can continue to thrash out their differences. 

    Image caption: The EU financial year, unlike in the UK, runs from January to December.
  23. Budget negotiated with 'strong sense of unity'

    Replying on behalf of the Commission, budgets commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says the negotiations on the 2016 budget ended with a "strong sense of unity".

    She tells MEPs that the budget made use of the flexibility measures included in recent changes to the framework governing the EU's long-term budget. 

    Kristalina Georgieva
  24. Budget 'a good result for Europe'

    Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna speaks on behalf of the Council of Ministers, which groups together the national governments in the EU. 

    Luxembourg currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council, which it will hand over at the end of the year. 

    He also thanks MEPs for their co-operation on the budget, which he says is a "good result for Europe". 

    He adds that the fact the final round of negotiations was interrupted by the news of the terror attacks in Paris only "reinforced our willingness to reach a result".  

    Pierre Gramegna
  25. 'A budget for employment'

    French liberal MEP Jean Arthuis, who chairs the Parliament's budgets committee, says he would like to thank those who contributed to the agreement on next year's budget, which he says was achieved "in a context which was extremely difficult".

    Portuguese centre-right MEP Jose Manual Fernandes salutes the deal as a "positive agreement" that is "in line with the priorities of the European Parliament".

    He adds that the agreed text is a "budget for employment and a budget for solidarity". 

    Jean Arthuis
    Image caption: Jean Arthuis
  26. Background on the 2016 budget negotiations

    Under the deal struck just over a week ago, the EU’s 2016 budget will be set at €144bn in actual spending, with €155m reserved for commitments.

    The final agreement is slightly higher than initially proposed by member states back in May.

    MEPs had argued against cuts for projects to boost employment and dealing with the migration crisis.

    This year, as in previous years, MEPs were arguing for higher overall levels of EU spending than the national governments deemed acceptable. 

    They have also increased concern in the past that EU annual budgets have not matched the commitments matched in previous years, leaving some EU-funded projects short of money. 

  27. MEPs begin debate on 2016 EU budget

    That’s the debate on tax transparency finished. MEPs will vote on whether or not to endorse the tax committee’s report at the voting session tomorrow lunchtime.

    Next, MEPs debate a deal they struck with national ministers just over a week ago on the EU’s budget for next year.

    The agreement follows months of three-way negotiations between MEPs, national ministers and officials from the European Commission.

    MEPs will vote tomorrow lunchtime on whether or not to give their final backing to the deal. 

    Euro notes being counted
  28. MEPs have 'full support' of Commission on tax fairness

    Summing up for the Commission, Commissioner Moscovici tells MEPs that they have the "full support of the Commission" in their bid to boost tax fairness. 

    He adds that, as a global issue, tax transparency should also be pursued at the G20 as well as within the EU. 

    He says the Commission will do "as much as possible" to make the findings of its impact assessment into country-by-country reporting measures public. 

    He pledges that the Commission "will continue" to work with the Parliament's tax investigation committee if its mandate is renewed on Thursday. 

    He adds that he sees the committee's work as "positive pressure". 

    Commissioner Moscovici
  29. Committee report a 'sneaky trick'

    UKIP financial affairs spokesman Steven Woolfe says that Jean-Claude Juncker has been "rewarded" with his appointment as Commission President, despite allowing a tax regime in Luxembourg that allowed multinationals to "game the system". 

    He dismisses the response in the report, however, as a "sneaky trick" to push for the construction of a "single EU tax policy".

    He says he agrees with Ashley Fox that taxation should remain a national competency, and that tax competition has a "positive" effect on the economy. 

    To illustrate his point, he recites a quotation attributed to Winston Churchill, that 

    Quote Message: for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle".
    Steven Woolfe
  30. Tax transparency and the EU Commission

    The Commission has already introduced measures to increase the transparency of tax rulings struck between multinationals and member states.

    Starting in June 2017, tax authorities will have to report to authorities in other EU countries the advance “cross-border” tax rulings they have struck with multinationals.

    Under the deal struck by national ministers, the European Commission will have access to the information, but only for “monitoring the correct implementation of the directive”.

    The Commission had originally wanted to have the same access as the national authorities.

    MEPs criticised national ministers for restricting the Commission’s access in a resolution vote at a plenary session last month. 

    Magnifying Glass
  31. Protecting whistleblowers

    Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds says that, "properly enacted", the recommendations in the report would reduce levels of tax avoidance across the EU. 

    Among the recommendations, she says common definitions on how profits are defined would help to prevent different EU states playing "different definitions" off against each other. 

    She also adds that she is pleased there is "so much agreement" in the report on the need to protect whistleblowers. 

    Anneliese Dodds
  32. Committee powers 'unworthy of democracy'

    German left-wing MEP Fabio de Masi has a point to make about the powers and conduct of the committee. 

    He says that the committee's calls to see confidential tax documents were "met with silence", which hampered its work. 

    Green group co-leader Philippe Lamberts has a similar point to make, saying the inability of the committee to get hold of relevant documents was "unworthy of democracy". 

    Fabio de Masi
  33. Tax report has 'missed the point'

    Polish centre-right MEP Danuta Maria Hubner outlines her support for the report, saying the current tax system in Europe "does not fit the reality of the 21st century". 

    She adds that more must be done to end the "double standards" on taxation that exist between small and large companies. 

    British Conservative Ashley Fox says he supports extra measures to improve the transparency of data on tax rulings, but that the report overall has "missed the point".

    He adds that there is no recognition that low rates of taxation can be an effective tool for promoting growth, and that, as long as it is fair, "tax competition between member states is good".

    He also says the text "goes too far", arguing that it calls for the "harmonisation" of taxation across the EU. 

    Danuta Maria Hubner
    Ashley Fox
  34. Message on profits reporting heard 'loud and clear'

    Replying for the Commission, Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici says the EU executive also shares the desire to make the taxation system fairer.

    He says he also agrees with the report's suggestion that profit should normally be taxed "where it is created".

    Responding to the comments in the report bemoaning MEPs' inability to gain access to certain tax documents, he says that limits on access did "not come from the Commission". 

    He tells MEPs that the Commission has heard their message "loud and clear" on the need for country-by-country reporting of profits. 

    He adds that an assessment of measures to implement the change is currently ongoing, and will report back next year. 

    Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici
  35. Report rapporteurs open debate

    The debate opens with contributions from the two MEPs who have co-authored the report on behalf of the committee. 

    Portuguese Socialist Elisa Ferreira tells MEPs that the report's recommendations seek to address the "totally unfair" situation regarding taxation in the EU. 

    She adds that, at the moment, "most multinationals" are only paying an effective rate of corporate taxation of around 5%, putting a higher burden on individuals and small and medium-sized businesses to pay the taxes for public services. 

    German liberal Michael Theurer says the report is based around the idea that the tax system should provide "equal treatment for all". 

    Elisa Ferreira
    Michael Theurer
  36. Background on the committee's report

    The MEPs’ draft report recommends a number of measures for national governments to clamp down on tax avoidance, including “country-by-country” reporting of where multinationals make their profits.  

    It also calls for greater transparency relating to the amount of information national tax authorities should have to disclose both to authorities in other EU countries and the European Commission.

    Notably, it also calls for renewed efforts to set up a common system for calculating corporate tax payments due by multinationals across the EU.

    Plans for this co-called Common Consolidated Corporation Tax Base (CCCTB) have been stalled by member states ever since they were first proposed in 2011.

    Some groups, including the UK Conservatives, have suggested the measure is a move towards establishing a harmonised EU rate of corporation tax, although this is denied by the Commission. 

  37. Tax avoidance debate begins

    Hello and welcome back to this afternoon’s sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    MEPs will shortly be debating a report on tax avoidance produced by the Parliament’s temporary tax investigation committee, which will be put to a vote tomorrow lunchtime.

    MEPs will vote on Thursday on whether to renew the committee's mandate, which is otherwise due to expire at the end of this month. 

    The committee was set up after the “Luxleaks” scandal last year, when journalists disclosed a number of sweetheart tax deals that multinationals had struck with Luxembourg.

    The Commission is currently conducting a probe into whether the deals amount to “state aid”, which is normally considered illegal under EU internal market laws.

    The scandal proved particularly embarrassing for Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of the country at the time when many of the deals were agreed. 

    Euro notes
  38. Explanations of votes begin

    That’s the voting session finished. MEPs will now have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

    The session will resume at 14.00 GMT, when MEPs will be debating the final report of the Parliament’s temporary committee into tax avoidance. 

  39. MEPs pass advisory resolutions

    MEPs also pass three “own initiative” resolutions they debated yesterday evening on lowering childhood poverty, EU cohesion policy and boosting the role of the EU at the United Nations.

    The resolutions are not binding on either the European Commission or EU national governments.

    You can read more about the resolutions here

  40. MEPs back insurance information changes

    By a massive majority, MEPs give their “first reading” backing to proposed changes to EU rules governing what information sales staff at insurance companies have to give to consumers.

    MEPs decide not to add any amendments to the text they have agreed with national governments.

    Under the changes, insurance distributors would have to register with a “competent national authority”, and meet certain standards for the amount of information they give to potential customers.

    However, there will be exemptions for those with premiums worth less than €600 a year. 

    The text will now go back to the member states for final consultation before it is adopted. 

  41. MEPs award LUX prize to 'Mustang'

    Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven accepts her award for her film 'Mustang'.
    Image caption: Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven accepts her award for her film 'Mustang'.
  42. LUX film prize to be announced

    That’s the debate on changes to insurance information rules finished.

    At the voting session, due to begin shortly, MEPs will decide whether to back at “first reading” the deal they struck on the changes with member states in June.

    First, however, there will be a short ceremony to announce the winner of this year’s LUX film prize.

    The prize is awarded every year by the European Parliament to a film that "illustrates or questions the founding values of European identity". 

  43. Commissioner: deal 'worth waiting for'

    Commissioner Hill sums up the debate by repeating his call for MEPs to back the changes at the vote. 

    He adds that although the final deal has been the product of a "long gestation", it will be an agreement "worth waiting for". 

    Commissioner Hill
  44. Uniform rules 'help major corporates'

    UKIP's Steven Woolfe says the philosophy of establishing a "single rulebook" across sectors such as insurance is a way of thinking "of the the 40s and 50s". 

    He adds that the standardisation of rules has the effect of helping the "major corporates", which gain a competitive advantage in implementing them because of their large compliance departments. 

    Steven Woolfe
  45. Improving customer information

    German Christian democrat Burkhard Balz outlines his support for the changes, which he says will improve the quality of information given to customers about insurance products.

    He adds that it will mean improved standards are enshrined in legislation once the directive is transposed into national laws.  

    Labour MEP Catherine Stihler says the legislation will give greater uniformity on information across the EU, replacing a "patchwork" of different standards. 

    She adds that the changes will allow consumers to "better understand the costs and risks" of buying insurance products. 

    Catherine Stihler
    Image caption: Catherine Stihler
  46. Support for changes

    German Christian democrat Werner Langen, who has acted as Parliament's lead negotiator on the new law, says he welcomes this week's vote, which he says marks the culmination of three years of negotiations. 

    He adds that the changes will "strengthen the position of the consumer". 

    For the Commission, financial services commissioner Lord Hill says the legislation is part of an "overall drive to increase transparency and improve consumer protection". 

    He adds that the new rules will not only help consumers, but allow insurance companies to "better understand what they are selling".  

    Lord Hill
    Image caption: Lord Hill is the UK's European Commissioner
  47. Debate on insurance information standards begins

    That’s the debate on EU energy policy finished.

    Next, MEPs are debating proposed changes to EU rules governing what information sales staff at insurance companies have to give to consumers.

    At lunchtime, MEPs will vote on whether or not to back at “first reading” a deal they struck on the changes with member states in June.

    Under the changes, insurance distributors would have to register with a “competent national authority”, and meet certain standards for the amount of information they give to potential customers.

    However, there will be exemptions for those with premiums worth less than €600 a year. 

  48. Call to innovate in transport sector

    Polish Conservative Jadwiga Wisniewska says what happens with the Nord Stream pipeline expansion (see below) will determine whether talk of energy solidarity in Europe is "anything more than empty words". 

    Finnish centre-right MEP Henna Virkkunen says the EU would do well to focus on the transport sector as a means to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, pointing out that transport accounts for around a third of EU carbon emissions. 

    She says that with the right approach, EU countries could become "pioneers" of clean transport. 

    Henna Virkkunen
    Image caption: Henna Virkkunen
  49. Lessons from 2009

    Czech left-wing MEP Miloslav Ransdorf says the EU has "not made much progress" in improving the inter-connectivity of gas supplies since the 2009 energy crisis

    Several European countries had their supplies of Russian gas cut or sharply reduced amid an energy price dispute between Moscow and Ukraine.

    Mr Ransdorf says that lessons need to be learnt from the crisis, including the need for proper gas reserves that can be used in times of crisis or supply disruption. 

  50. Commission's proposals 'weak' on renewables

    Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan say's the Commission's strategy is "weak in its proposals" to increase renewables, telling MEPs that it seems to rely on a "ramping up of gas and nuclear".

    She says that simply diversifying the sources of gas supply ignores politically safer and more environmentally-friendly sources of energy. 

    She says, however, that she is not surprised at the Commission's approach, claiming that "4 out of 5" meetings the energy commissioners have had have been with lobbyists representing energy firms that rely on fossil fuels. 

    Lynn Boylan
  51. Support for integration of gas markets

    Conservative MEP Ashley Fox says he supports efforts to create a "properly integrated" market for gas within Europe. 

    He says that, ideally, he would like businesses and consumers in his regional constituency to be able to buy energy from "any company within the EU". 

    He adds that this would have a political advantage for the EU too, meaning that "even if Mr Putin turns off the gas tap", businesses within Europe will still be able to get hold of the energy they need and "no one has to go cold in the winter". 

    Ashley Fox
  52. Call for 'European regulator' on energy policy

    Belgian liberal MEP Philippe de Backer outlines his support for the project, and calls for a "European regulator" to monitor how the policy is being implemented. 

    Dutch Green Bas Eickhout calls on the Commission to do more to integrate the EU's "fragmented" energy market, which he identifies are the single biggest reason for high energy prices. 

    He also calls for an end to subsidies for coal-burning plants. 

    Philippe de Backer
  53. EU renewables policy creating 'industrial massacre'

    UKIP MEP Roger Helmer says the different EU countries seem to be suffering from a "collective psychosis" over what its energy strategy should be. 

    He adds that the EU's commitment to increasing the supply of energy from renewable sources has been a "disaster" that has has "driven energy-intensive companies out of Europe". 

    "We are creating an industrial massacre in Europe", he adds. 

    Roger Helmer
  54. Call to link development cash to commitments

    Austrian Eurosceptic Barbara Kappel says it is "unacceptable" that the EU is the only major player willing to make binding commitments at next month's climate conference in Paris. 

    She says the EU should link development aid it gives to developing countries with the commitments given by developing countries to reduce their carbon emissions. 

    Barbara Kappel
  55. Interconnection target

    One of the key targets in the proposals is a commitment to achieve a 10% interconnection of electricity grids across borders by 2020.

    This has been a goal of the EU since 2002, but has so far remained elusive.

    According to the Commission’slatest report, only 22 of the EU’s 28 states have reached or are on track to reach the target. 

    Electricity pylons
  56. Green MEP derides 'paper without a vision'

    Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes says last week's report was a "paper without a clear vision", which he describes a "weak".

    He says the Commission has "presented nothing this year" on boosting renewables, and accuses it of reducing promised energy efficiency targets.

    He adds that the Nord Stream extension could make eastern Europe more "fragile", and urges him to be "courageous" in standing up to "French and German interests". 

    Claude Turmes
  57. Calls for 'balanced' approach on carbon reduction

    Latvian centre-right MEP Krisjanis Karins says the Commission must ensure it takes a "balanced" approach between reducing carbon emissions and keeping the economy competitive, notably in the steel sector.

    He says the extension of the Nord Stream pipeline will "increase our dependence on Russia" and calls for the Commission to carefully analyse whether it complies with the EU's wider energy strategy. 

    Romanian Socialist Dan Nica says the strategy must have a focus on reducing prices for consumers and co-ordinated efforts for tackling fuel poverty. 

    Krisjanis Karins
  58. Background on the Nord Stream extension

    Some MEPs have expressed concern that the EU’s ambitions for an “energy union” could be undermined by plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline which runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

    In June, a number of EU energy companies signed an agreement with Gazprom, the Russian state-backed energy company, that would add around 55 billion cubic meters of extra capacity to the pipeline by 2019.

    The planned extensions are expected to lead to large losses in revenue for Ukraine and other eastern European countries which are bypassed by the pipeline.

    Commissioner Sefcovic himself has also questioned whether the deal might undermine the EU’s current energy strategy.

    He has also said it is likely to “completely change the gas balance” in eastern Europe.  

    Gas Pipeline
  59. No EU funding for Nord Stream extension

    Commissioner Sefcovic kicks off the debate by telling MEPs he was "encouraged" by their response to the plan when it was announced. 

    He says the Commission hopes the publication of annual reports reviewing the Energy Union will lead to yearly debates about "all elements of the energy union". 

    He says he wants the EU to "remain the leader" in the transition to low-carbon sources of energy, and accelerate plans to improve interconnection of grids. 

    On plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, he says that the Commission will not support it unless it is "in line with with the core principles of the Energy Union". 

    He adds that the project will not be befitting from any EU financing. 

    Commissioner Sefcovic
  60. Background on the 'Energy Union'

    The plan, announced in March, aims to further integrate EU energy markets to reduce the dependency of eastern European countries on imported energy from Russia.

    Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia are dependent on Russia alone for all of their gas imports.

    It includes plans to increase the amount of energy generated from renewables and boost the interconnection of national energy grids.

    More controversially, it also includes the aim of giving the European Commission a greater role in assessing energy contracts that member states strike with non-EU countries.

    The original policy document said EU countries should “speak with one voice” when it comes to negotiating energy deals with countries outside the bloc. 

    Power Plant
  61. Good Morning

    Hello and welcome to coverage of this second day of this week’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The sitting will begin shortly with a statement from Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on last week’s report into how well EU states are implementing the Commission’s plans to build a so-called “energy union”.

    The report found that EU countries were not on track to meet their 2020 energy efficiency targets, but were doing better when it comes to meeting that year’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas.

    However, the report also acknowledged that a deeper understanding of the state of EU energy markets would need clearer statistics and data.

    MEPs will set out their response to the report in two resolutions, to be put to the vote at a future plenary session.