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Summary

  1. The sitting began with a debate a motion on how EU countries can help fight poverty, and ways to encourage private sector firms to participate in development projects.
  2. Ahead of a lunchtime vote, MEPs also debated human rights motions relating to Nigeria, Honduras and last month's bomb attack in Lahore.
  3. At the voting session, they gave final approval to new data protection rules, and an EU-wide system to share airline passenger data.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye

    And with that, today's business at the European Parliament comes to an end. 

    Remember you can recap events at this week's plenary on the Parlaiments section of the BBC News website. 

    MEPs' next plenary sitting will take place in Brussels on April 27-28. 

  2. Commissioner: driverless cars bring 'great opportunities'

    Debate on impact of driverless cars

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    In reply, Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says the arrival of driverless cars brings "great opportunities" to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of the EU car sector. 

    She says the Commission is analysing developments in the sector as part of its research into competitiveness and its plans to create an energy union between EU countries. 

    She adds that it is expected that driverless cars will be able to comply with existing car testing procedures, and that "discussions are ongoing" as to changes that might be necessary. 

    Marianne Thyssen
  3. EU needs 'secure investment'

    Debate on impact of driverless cars

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    German social democrat Ismail Ertug says that the car industry has already "made considerable headway" when it comes to driverless cars.

    He adds say the arrival of "autonomous driving" will have an impact for transport polices and urban planning, but that "no attempts" have so far been made to look into its impact at an EU level. 

    He says that the EU also needs a "secure investment environment" in this area in order to compete with the United States. 

    Ismail Ertug
  4. MEPs begin debate on driverless cars

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That’s the debate on the impact of the migration crisis on Europe’s transport systems finished.

    Finally today, Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen will stay to debate what legal work the European Commission is undertaking to prepare for the eventual arrival of driverless cars.

    In an oral question to the Commission, a number of MEPs have asked the Commission to clarify how existing liability law might have to be changed if cars themselves control their own steering.

    It also asks whether the EU executive is intending to change existing testing laws for the new vehicles, or make any “additional strategic investments” in the area. 

    Driverless car
  5. EU 'should stop mass migration' - MEP

    Debate on migration crisis and the transport sector

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Hungarian MEP Krisztina Morvai, from the nationalist Jobbik party, says that she "fully agrees" that the permanent reintroduction of border controls would incur "enormous costs". 

    However, she says that the "answer should be to stop mass migration".

    However, she says that debates in the chamber are just a "preparation" for a forthcoming announcement that the EU wants to "make all migration legal". 

    Krisztina Morvai
  6. EU states 'paying high price' for border controls

    Debate on migration crisis and the transport sector

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Stanislav Polcak

    Centre-right Czech MEP Stanislav Polcak says that the permanent reintroduction of border controls would be "colossal" and have a "negative impact on trade".

    Dutch Liberal Matthijs van Miltenburg says that "various think tanks" support the Commission's analysis of the potential economic impact of permanently restoring border controls.  

    He adds that Europe is "currently paying a high price" for the fragmentation of the Schengen zone. 

  7. Commissioner: 'substantial negative effects' from border controls

    Debate on migration crisis and the transport sector

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Marianne Thyssen tells MEPs that the transport sector is "particularly sensitive" to the effects of temporary border controls introduced by several EU countries in response to the migration crisis.

    She repeats analysis recently produced by the Commission which she says shows "substantial negative effects" on the European economy if border controls became permanent. 

    She says the Commission would like to see controls lifted "as soon as possible", and has produced guidance under which a "normally functioning Schengen area" would return by the end of this year.  

    Marianne Thyssen
  8. Welcome back

    Welcome back to coverage of this final afternoon session of this week’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The short session will be getting underway shortly, when MEPs will be joined by Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to debate the impact of the migration crisis on the EU’s transport sector.

  9. MEPs finish final votes

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    MEPs also pass motions they debated this morning on how EU countries can help fight poverty, and how to encourage private firms to commit funds to development policies. 

    And with that, today's voting session comes to an end. MEPs will now have the opportunity to make short speeches to explain how they voted. 

    The session is due to resume at 14.00, when MEPs are due to be joined by Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to debate the impact of the migration crisis on Europe's transport system. 

  10. Lead MEP 'delighted' with vote on passenger scheme

  11. MEPs pass trade secrets law

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Having rejected a last-ditch attempt from some MEPs to delay the vote, Parliament also gives final approval to new EU legislation aimed at strengthening the protection of companies’ trade secrets. 

    The measure was announced by the previous European Commission in 2013, which said cross-border business research was being hampered by differences in national trade secrets laws.

    The new proposals would introduce an EU-wide legal definition of what counts as a trade secret, and oblige member states to introduce new laws to beef up protection for commercial information.

    Some MEPs and campaigners have criticised the new law for not putting in place adequate provisions to protect journalists and whistle-blowers.

    Critics have said the new law could make it easier to prosecute journalists for publishing information that companies deem to be secret. 

    Top secret documents
  12. MEPs back EU-wide passenger data sharing scheme

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    By 461 votes to 179 with nine abstentions, MEPs give final approval to EU legislation which would require airlines to hand over certain passenger data to national security authorities for the purposes of tracking potential terrorists.

    MEPs finally agreed a provisional deal with national ministers on the law back in December, following years of opposition on civil liberties and effectiveness grounds.

    MEPs have come under renewed pressure to pass the deal following recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. 

    However, centre-left and liberal MEPs had blocked a final vote until a vote could also be held on the new data protection rules.

    An amendment from a Liberal MEP to force authorities to “automatically” share the results of processing data (instead of “where necessary”) is defeated by 457 to 163.

    You can read more about the proposed scheme here.  

    Brussels airplines
  13. MEPs pass new data rules for police

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    In a separate vote, MEPs also give final approval to new EU rules governing how personal data is to be used by national police forces and crime agencies. 

  14. MEPs back data protection overhaul

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    MEPs give their final approval to a wide-ranging regulation they debated yesterday to overhaul EU data protection rules.

    It follows agreement on the legislation between MEPs and national ministers at a meeting last Friday, which was endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday.

    The new law, which has been under negotiation for years, aims to replace current rules – which date from 1995 – with an updated EU-wide framework for protecting consumer data.

    The legislation is aiming to give clarity and legal certainty for businesses, as well as giving people more control over how their internet data is used.

    It will also introduce the possibility of large fines for companies that breach the law and offer some complex problems about how they store, delete and return data to citizens.

    Once the new rules have come into effect, EU member states will have two years to comply – you can read more about changes here

    Mobile phone
  15. Post update

  16. Voting to begin shortly

    That's the debate on the human rights motions finished - all three motions will be put to a vote during today's voting session, which will get underway in a few minutes. 

  17. MEPs begin debate on attacks in Nigeria

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That’s the debate on threats to activists and journalists in Honduras finished – MEPs will vote on their motion at lunchtime.

    MEPs are now debating their third and final human rights motion, which condemns recent terror attacks in Nigeria by Boko Haram.

    The group is believed responsible for thousands of killings, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, and hundreds of abductions, including over 200 schoolgirls in May 2014. 

    A draft motion agreed between seven of Parliament’s political groups urges the Nigerian government to launch “comprehensive, independent and effective investigations” into the attacks. 

    Protest
    Image caption: Parents have demanded more government action in Nigeria to find girls abducted by Boko Haram
  18. MEPs begin debate on Honduras

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That’s debate on the Lahore attacks finished – MEPs will vote on their motion at lunchtime.

    The second of today’s human rights motions expresses concern about “abuses, violence, arbitrary detention, threats and killings” against human rights activists and journalists in Honduras.

    The draft text – backed by seven of Parliament’s political groups – also condemns the recent killing of three human rights activists in the country.

    It adds that the Honduran authorities “failed to provide adequate protection” to one of the activists – and calls for independent investigations into their deaths.  

    It also notes that the country has become “one of the most dangerous countries in the region” for human rights defenders and environmental activists.

    Journalist mourns colleagues
    Image caption: Reporters Without Borders said last year that 28 journalists have been killed int he country since 2000