Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. MEPs were joined by European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly to debate the annual report on her activities during 2014.
  2. The Ombudsman is charged with investigating complaints about maladministration and transparency in the EU's institutions.
  3. After this, MEPs debated the future of anti-counterfeiting and anti-smuggling measures the EU has signed with the world’s four largest tobacco companies.
  4. The voting session saw votes on changes to the EURES job search site, and negotiations for EU trade deals with Tunisia, Australia and New Zealand.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye

    That's today's session finished - MEPs will next meet for a plenary sitting in Strasbourg on Monday 7 March. 

  2. Short speeches begin

    That’s the voting session finished – after a short break, MEPs will have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

  3. MEPs express concern about situation in Yemen

    MEPs pass a motion expressing "grave concern" at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen.

    More than 6,000 people have been killed in the country since last March, in a struggle for power between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the president.

    The UN has said that at least 80% of the population is now dependent on food aid. 

    The text calls for an international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law, including attacks targeting humanitarian workers and infrastructure. 

    Water supplies in Yemen
    Image caption: The conflict in Yemen has badly disrupted water supplies
  4. MEPs express support for EU trade deal with Tunisia

    In a non-binding motion, MEPs give their backing to EU efforts to negotiate a trade deal with Tunisia.

    The motion says, however, that any trade deal must not just contribute to boosting Tunisia’s economy but also “consolidating” democratic measures. 

  5. MEPs give initial backing to changes to EU jobs website

    MEPs give their “first reading” approval to proposed measures to change the EURES jobs website, which provides information to those who want to find employment in another EU country.

    The Commission has said it wants to establish a free-of-charge automated system to match people using the site with jobs, and extend the network to cover apprenticeships and traineeships.

    MEPs have welcomed the changes, but have said national governments should be able to exclude some apprenticeships to reflect their own education systems or employment strategies. 

    Negotiations on the changes will now continue with national ministers. 

  6. Votes to begin soon

    That’s the debate on EU anti-smuggling deals with cigarette companies finished. MEPs are now taking their seats before today’s voting session. 

  7. Italian MEP speaks with cigarette in mouth

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Gianluca Buonann
    Image caption: Controversial Italian MEP Gianluca Buonanno has a prop to accompany his point that the tobacco lobby has "tame MEPs to do its bidding"
  8. Commission has 'learnt lessons' from deals

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Kristalina Georgieva

    Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva tells MEPs that the Commission shares the Parliament's concerns about the future changes. 

    She adds that this is an issue that affects not just law enforcement, but also public health.

    She says that lessons have been learnt from the previous deals, which successfully generated intelligence that led to the arrest of smugglers and the break-up of criminal groups. 

  9. Debate on cigarette smuggling agreements begins

    That’s the debate on the European Ombudsman finished – MEPs will vote on their non-binding resolution at lunchtime.

    Next, MEPs will debate anti-counterfeiting and anti-smuggling measures the EU has signed with the world’s four largest tobacco companies.

    The deals oblige the companies to take steps to prevent cigarettes falling into the hands of smugglers, including a tracking system to help police forces clamp down on illegal trading.

    They have also paid a total of $2.15bn to the EU and national governments in return for the EU dropping legal procedures against them, for loss of duties caused by illegal trade in cigarettes.

    One of the deals, with Philip Morris International (PMI), is due to be renewed in July.

    MEPs have tabled oral questions to ask the Commission for an assessment of how well the deals are working, and for how future payments will be shared out. 

    Cigarettes
  10. TTIP talks 'verge on secret diplomacy'

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Independent Greek MEP Notis Marias - whose party is in coalition with Syriza in Greece - takes a slightly different view on the transparency of the TTIP talks, which he says "verge on secret diplomacy". 

    MEPs are allowed to read some - but not all - of the negotiation documents in a "reading room" in the Parliament, but are not allowed to publish them. 

    The Commission has said it wants to make the negotiations are transparent as possible but that not all documents can be published because they are commercially sensitive. 

    He adds that EU citizens "must have access to the documents". 

  11. Commissioner hails 'unprecedented' transparency of TTIP talks

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Deputy Commission chief Frans Timmermans, whose brief also includes oversight of inter-institutional relations in the EU, thanks the Ombudsman for the "excellent quality" of her work. 

    He tells MEPs about some of the measures the Commission has launched to try and improve transparency - including a transparency register launched in December 2014. 

    He also says that the Commission, acting in response to the European Parliament, has opened up access to more documents in the TTIP trade deal, setting "unprecedented" standards of transparency for this kind of negotiation. 

    He says he also welcomes news from the Ombudsman during her speech that its "compliance rate" with her agency's recommendations should be higher last year than it was during 2014. 

    "Let's try and improve that even further", he adds.  

    Frans Timmermans
  12. Ombudsman striving for 'highest possible standards'

    Debate on European Ombudsman

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly thanks the Parliament for what she calls her "strategic use" of so-called own-initiative inquiries. 

    These are investigations launched by the Ombudsman of its own back, instead of in response to a complaint from an organisation or member of the public. 

    She adds that EU bodies set higher transparency standards "than many member member states", but that their increasing importance has brought "increasing expectations" for the "highest possible standards". 

    He says, however, that she is "disappointed" with the European Commission's decision not to follow her recommendation that all meetings between commissioners and tobacco companies. 

    At the moment, only meetings with officials in the Commission's health department are published. 

    She tells MEPs that, because of the potential impact of health policy, the normal rules relating to disclosure of lobbying meetings "should not apply". 

    Emily O'Reilly
  13. Ombudsman can 'boost confidence' in EU institutions

    Debate on European Ombudsman

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Soledad Cabezon Ruiz

    Spanish Socialist Soledad Cabezon Ruiz, who has compiled the motion on behalf of the committee, says she would like to thank the Ombudsman for her "excellent" work in 2014. 

    She notes that the Ombudsman received more than 2,000 inquiries during the year, and opened 342 investigations as a result. 

    She adds that the Ombudsman's office is has a "particularly important" role to play in scrutinising maladministration, and "boosting people's confidence" in EU institutions at a time when it is low.  

  14. Good Morning

    Hello and welcome to coverage of this “mini plenary” sitting of the European Parliament in Brussels.

    The session will be getting underway shortly, when MEPs will be joined by European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly to debate the annual report on her activities during 2014.

    At lunchtime, MEPs will vote on a non-binding motion on her office, which is charged with investigating complaints about maladministration and transparency in EU institutions.

    The draft prepared by the Petitions Committee calls for the office’s budget to be increased.

    It also backs drives to investigate “revolving door cases” – which senior EU officials go on to take jobs for lobbying companies – and increase access to documents used in negotiations for the TTIP EU-US trade deal