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Summary

  1. The sitting began at 16.00 GMT with a debate on the week's agenda.
  2. This was followed by a debate on a report from the European Commission on the enforcement of EU competition rules during 2014.
  3. MEPs then debated proposals to set up a new EU-wide system for testing the diesel emissions for cars, following the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
  4. The evening saw debates on a number of "own initiative" motions on various topics - including changes to EU financial services rules, and measures to promote entrepreneurship among women.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    That's all from the European Parliament tonight - MEPs will be back tomorrow at 08.00 GMT, when Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will join MEPs to discuss his country's six-month tenure of the EU presidency.

    Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will speak in a debate during the afternoon to review last month's summit of EU leaders in Brussels. 

    And new Polish prime minister Beata Szydło will be in town to debate an EU inquiry into whether new Polish laws break EU democracy rules. 

  2. Short speeches begin

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

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

  3. Commissioner: education should be 'more relevant' to workplace

    Replying for the Commission, Lord Hill says there is a need to make training "more relevant" to what employers need. 

    He says that the Commission has agreed to bring forward EU money to fund the Youth Employment Initiative this year. 

    He says work is already underway on an EU "pact for youth", promoting greater co-operation between business and educational institutions.  

    Lord Hill
  4. MEP outlines motion on improving employment skills

    Polish centre-right MEP Marek Plura’s resolution calls for national governments to create skills development strategies in their efforts to fight youth unemployment.

    The text notes that whilst young people in the EU are more educated than previous generations, they often face “significant structural hurdles” when finding work.

    His resolution calls for measures to make sure education systems in the member states “adequately prepare students for professional realisation”.

    He tells MEPs that there is also a need to foster greater links between the education and business sectors. 

    Marek Plura
  5. Commission 'wants to do more' to promote women in business

    Representing the Commission, Lord Hill says the Commission is working to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit of "the whole workforce". 

    However, he says that a "lack of confidence" and "stereotypes" can often deter women from thinking about starting their own businesses. 

    He says that the Commission "wants to do more" in this area, and will be setting up a "one stop shop" website later this year to give women a better source of information about entrepreneurship, and a network of women business angel investors.  

    Lord Hill
  6. Motion on female entrepreneurship

    Italian centre-right MEP Barbara Matera has prepared a resolution on female entrepreneurship, on behalf of the Parliament’s women’s rights committee.

    It calls for national governments to come up with “concrete strategies” to promote the involvement of women in the workplace.

    It also urges governments to highlight companies in the private sector that are “seeking to promote gender equality and their best practice”.

    She tells MEPs that women often also face discrimination when applying for money to set up companies. 

    Barbara Matera
  7. Debate on 'own initiative' motions begins

    Next this evening, there will be short presentations of two “own initiative” resolutions from the Parliament’s committees that will be put to the vote tomorrow.

    These non-legislative resolutions are used by parliamentarians and their committees to state their position on policy areas where legislation may emerge from the Commission.

    They are also used to for expressing Parliament’s position on “different aspects of European integration” – meaning quite a broad range of subjects can attract resolutions. 

  8. Commissioner: 'fundamental architecture' will not change

    Lord Hill sums up the debate by telling MEPs that the changes are not seeking to change the "fundamental architecture" of the post-crash legislation.

    He repeats that the purpose of the review is to see where legislation might be hindering investment. 

    Lord Hill
  9. Increasing regulation 'in the DNA' of the EU

    UKIP financial affairs spokesman Steven Woolfe says the review from the Commission means the EU is effectively admitting that to much regulation might stifle the financial sector. 

    However, he says that there is little chance that the Commission will reduce the legislative burden, as increasing it is "inherent to the EU's DNA". 

    Steven Woolfe
  10. Commission 'set to deregulate' financial sector

    Petr Jezek

    Czech Liberal Petr Jezek tells MEPs that EU financial services legislation now needs to move from "repairing holes" to creating an environment to promote greater investment. 

    In particular, he says that improving the flow of financing to small businesses is "key to bringing Europe back to sustained growth". 

    However, German left-winger Fabio de Masi says the Commission's review is a clear sign it is "set to deregulate" the financial sector. 

    He says that corporate lobbyists in Brussels will "have their champagne nicely chilled" ready to toast the changes.  

    Fabio de Masi
  11. Commission to check legislation for 'unintended consequences'

    Financial Services Commissioner Lord Hill - also the UK's commissioner - says EU legislation passed since the financial crisis has made the sector stronger. 

    However, he says it is appropriate to review the legislation - comprising over 40 separate laws in total - to see if  it has had any "unintended consequences". 

    Lord Hill
  12. Calls to review EU financial legislation

    German Christian Democrat Burkhard Balz, who has prepared the resolution, says the  "through review" of previous financial services legislation need not lead to deregulation of the sector. 

    Instead, he says the study of previous laws should be used to identify areas where the EU may have been "too hasty" to act. 

    He calls for the Commission to complete a detailed impact study of all areas affected by the legislation by the end of the year.  

    Burkhard Balz
  13. Debate on capital markets begins

    That’s the debate on promoting “intercultural dialogue” finished. The vote takes place tomorrow.

    MEPs are now debating another non-binding motion – this time on EU financial services regulation and the Commission’s plan to create an EU “capital markets union”.

    The scheme aims to increase the amount of non-bank lending available to businesses, by making it easier for companies to raise money on stock and bond markets.

    The resolution is supportive of the strategy’s wider aim of boosting lending to small companies that have found it hard to get finance following the financial crash in 2008.

    It also calls for measures promoting greater cybersecurity to be included in the Commission’s plans to create a single market for digital services.

    It too will be put to a vote tomorrow. 

    Jonathan Hill
    Image caption: The UK's commissioner, Lord Hill, has been put in charge of boosting the EU's capital markets
  14. Debate on 'intercultural dialogue' begins

    That’s the debate on the new EU diesel tests finished.

    Next is a debate on a motion by British Labour MEP Julie Ward calling for greater “intercultural dialogue” to promote what it calls “fundamental EU values”.

    It says projects to increase awareness of different religions and cultures should be boosted in the light of “all recent and dramatic events”.

    The non-binding resolution will be put to a vote tomorrow lunchtime. 

  15. Commissioner: we 'did not ignore' warnings

    Summing up the debate for the Commission, Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska tells MEPs that the Commission "did not ignore" warnings about the test procedures. 

    She adds that rejection of the proposals at the vote next month would only leave the current system in place, with limits "four to five times higher" than they could be. 

    Elżbieta Bienkowska
  16. MEP says EU can 'do better' with new scheme

    Danish social democrat Christel Schaldemose says she agrees with the committee's recommendation to veto the proposed scheme next month. 

    She adds that it would be unacceptable if a revision to the test procedure were "used to allow higher emissions of NOx".

    "Dear Commission, we can do better", she concludes. 

    Christel Schaldemose
  17. Test failings 'known since 2006'

    German Green Michael Cramer says that "nothing" was done by either the Commission or national governments on emissions tests for a long time, despite warnings from MEPs. 

    He adds that not changing the tests during this period was down to cost considerations rather than a lack of technology. 

    He calls for those who "lied, cheated and deceived" to be punished. 

    Labour MEP Seb Dance makes a similar point, saying that the "discrepancy" between laboratory and on-road testing had been warned about since 2006, and that the Commission itself had acknowledged it in 2011. 

    Michael Cramer
    Image caption: Michael Cramer
  18. Veto would 'merely create a delay' to better system

    Belgian centre-left MEP Kathleen van Brempt says she is prepared to give the Commission "a little more time" to come up with a "more ambitious" proposal. 

    Conservative MEP Julie Girling, however, argues that the plans from the Commission do represent "real change" that should not be turned down. 

    She adds that she does understand the need to eventually reduce the difference between current and new emissions limits - the so-called "conformity factor" - but that MEPs should not pass up an opportunity to improve the current situation. 

    She says she does not support the idea of voting to veto the current plans at next month's plenary, adding: 

    Quote Message: it will merely create a delay that could stretch into months or years"
    Kathleen van Brempt
    Image caption: Kathleen van Brempt
  19. Commission 'could not convince' EU states on lower NOx limits

    Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska insists on the need to change laboratory emissions tests for cars, which she says are now widely regarded as not reliable. 

    She says that, under the new EU system proposed by the Commission, it will "no longer be possible" to cheat tests. 

    She underlines that the Commission did push for more stringent new limits on nitrogen oxides, but "could not convince member states" on the matter. 

    However, she adds that the new system still represents "substantial progress" on the current schemes, and that new rules are needed "as soon as possible". 

    Elżbieta Bienkowska
  20. MEP calls for new scheme by April

    Hungarian Green Benedek Javor begins the debate by explaining the environment committee's objections to the new scheme as it stands. 

    He says that the increase to nitrous oxide limits proposed by the Commission - and agreed by EU governments - "deeply undermines" the regulation itself and the EU bodies charged with enforcing it. 

    He adds that the committee is proposing formal rejection of the current scheme, and calls on the Commission to produce a new plan by the start of April at the latest. 

    Benedek Javor