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Summary

  1. MEPs debated new rules to harmonise penalties against firms that break EU customs law
  2. After this they debated EU-Iran relations after last year's nuclear deal
  3. The evening saw short debates on six "own initiative" motions

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    And with that, tonight's sitting draws to a close. 

    MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 BST, when they will debate an advisory motion calling for an EU monitoring system of fundamental rights breaches. 

    At lunchtime, they will vote on whether to increase security spending at EU buildings.

    From 14:00 BST, they will debate the EU's legislative programme for next year.

    They will also debate the 2017 EU budget, and whether to call for a limit on trans fats in food.  

  2. Short speeches begin

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    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. MEP introduces motion on liquefied gas

    Debate on own-initiative motions

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Hungarian Fidesz MEP András Gyurk's motion expresses support for an EU strategy aimed at increasing the ability of member states to import liquefied natural gas (LNG).

    The strategy, launched earlier this year, says taking advantage of low LNG prices could allow some countries to reduce their dependence on Russian gas imports.

    LNG is a cooled, liquefied form of ordinary natural gas which is easier to trade and transport over large distances.

    The motion is generally supportive, but expresses concern about the need for considerable new infrastructure in case it creates excess storage capacity. 

    András Gyurk
  4. French MEP outlines motion on detention of migrants

    Debate on own-initiative motions

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    French left-wing MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat’s motion calls for migrants and refugees to be detained “only in cases of absolute necessity”.

    It also says detention should be “underpinned by the appropriate safeguards”, including access to judicial remedy. 

    Her motion applies to non-EU "third countries", but specifies that the EU should "lead by example in promoting and protecting the human rights of migrants". 

    Marie-Christine Vergiat
  5. Italian MEP proposes motion on organised crime

    Debate on own-initiative motions

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Laura Ferrara

    Italian Five Star MEP Laura Ferrara presents a motion from the justice committee calling for a “European action plan” to tackle organised crime, corruption and money laundering.

    She says there is a need for the EU to recognise the transnational nature of much organised crime.

  6. Short debates on 'own initiative' motions begins

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That’s the debate on EU-Iran relations finished. MEPs will vote on their motion tomorrow.

    Next they will hold short debates on six non-binding “own initiative” motions prepared by several of Parliament’s committees that will be put to the vote tomorrow.  

    These motions do not carry any legal force and are not binding on the Commission or on member states – but serve as policy suggestions from MEPs. 

  7. MEP criticises 'lack of conditionality' in motion

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Estonian centre-right MEP Tunne Kelam also criticises the motion for lacking a "firm conditionality" between economic relations and progress on human rights. 

    He says economic relations are the "only way" the EU can hope to have a "positive impact" on Iran's record. 

    He says he will find it "very difficult" to support the motion, unless amendments suggested by the Liberal ALDE group are approved at the vote tomorrow.

    Tunne Kelam
  8. Human rights concerns 'not negotiable' - Liberal MEP

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Portuguese Liberal José Inácio Faria says the nuclear deal brings important economic opportunities for the EU, but the bloc cannot "close our eyes" to human rights abuses. 

    He says greater economic involvement with the country should be "subject to progress" in this area. 

    He says the motion as it stands does not reflect this "conditionality" over human rights, which he says should be "not negotiable" for the EU. 

    José Inácio Faria
  9. Details of the Iran nuclear deal

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Sanctions imposed by the UN, US and EU in an attempt to force Iran to halt uranium enrichment cost the country more than $160bn (£110bn) in oil revenue since 2012 alone.

    Iran stands to gain access to more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas, and will be able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade.

    Should Iran violate any aspect of the deal, the UN sanctions will automatically "snap back" into place for 10 years, with the possibility of a five-year extension.

    The deal however has been heavily criticised by US presidential contender Donald Trump, who has called it “one of the worst deals ever negotiated”. 

  10. UKIP MEP criticises 'too much, too quickly' approach

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    UKIP's James Carver says the nuclear deal provides "further ground" to build mutual respect between the West and Iran. 

    However, he questions the need for an EU strategy for the country, and criticises the suggestions in the motion to be voted on tomorrow. 

    He says it advocates a "too much, too quickly" approach, which could prove counter-productive in the long term. 

    However he too pays tribute to its author, Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who is due to leave the European Parliament later this year. 

    James Carver
  11. EU 'will continue' to voice human rights concerns - MEP

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Charles Tannock

    Conservative Charles Tannock says the EU "should and will continue" to voice concerns about human rights in Iran after the nuclear deal. 

    However he says "total disengagement" with country would not have brought about a deal which reduces the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region without the use of force.

    The deal "does not mean we've reached the end of the road", with Iran, he adds. 

    Dutch liberal MEP Marietje Schaake highlights the role of the EU during the negotiations last year, which she says highlighted the "success of EU common diplomacy". 

  12. EU 'already using opportunities' afforded by deal - Commissioner

    Debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete says the lifting of sanctions on Iran earlier this year brings the chance for a "new chapter" in EU relations with the country. 

    He says the EU played a "crucial role" as an "honest broker" during the negotiations. 

    He adds the EU is "already using the opportunities" provided by the deal, noting that the "initial reluctance" of the banking sector to invest in the country is a "natural phenomenon".

    He says greater economic interaction with Iran will open up "channels of communication" to address differences about human rights. 

    This area, he says, is an "obvious area of concern".

    Miguel Arias Canete
  13. MEPs begin debate on EU-Iran relations

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That's the debate on new rules for customs infringements finished - MEPs will vote on the new measures at first reading tomorrow. 

    MEPs are now debating what the EU’s diplomatic strategy should be with Iran following the landmark nuclear deal agreed last year.

    Nuclear-related sanctions against the country were lifted in January after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that it had restricted its sensitive nuclear activities.

    A non-binding motion to be voted on tomorrow calls for the bloc to explore ways of boosting trade with the country and pledges support for Iran’s bid to join the WTO.

    However it says that human rights abuses and the “systemic surveillance” of internet traffic by the government present “obstacles” to trade. 

    Federica Mogherini
    Image caption: Federica Mogherini (L) represented the EU during negotiations
  14. Conservative MEP: 'No viable reason' for legislation

    Debate on EU customs penalties

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    However British Conservative Daniel Dalton says his group will not be supporting the Parliament's text at the vote tomorrow. 

    He says he has yet to see a "viable reason" that justifies the proposal, and says the new rules will leave no room for national bodies to apply "common sense" to penalty decisions. 

    He says that there is a danger that smaller businesses will receive the same fines as large multinationals, something which he says is "wrong". 

    He says he feels the proposal also violates the EU's principle of subsidiarity - which says the EU should not make laws if an issue can be more effectively addressed at a national level. 

    Daniel Dalton
  15. MEP backs 'good compromise' on customs rules

    Debate on EU customs penalties

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    French Socialist Virginie Roziere says that harmonisation of rules in this area is a "necessity", and that national authorities are engaging in "customs competition" when it comes to penalties. 

    She says she supports the amendments added to the Commission's original proposals by MEPs on the Internal Market Committee. 

    The revised text, she adds, is a "very good compromise". 

    Virginie Roziere
  16. Commission gives qualified welcome to EP amendments

    Debate on EU customs penalties

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Euro and Social Dialogue Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tells MEPs that the consequences for those who break EU customs rules vary across the customs union. 

    He adds that there is currently a "patchwork" of different penalty regimes, with "widely different" interpretations of what constitutes a breach of the law. 

    He says the Commission welcomes many of the amendments suggested by MEPs, but there is also "room for discussion" in some areas. 

    Valdis Dombrovskis
  17. MEPs begin debate on EU customs penalties

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    With the agenda approved, MEPs now move on to their first debate this afternoon, on legislation to harmonise penalties against firms that break EU customs law.

    Although the EU is responsible for the application of the customs union – which includes common tariffs on imports – national customs forces are responsible for enforcement.

    The EU Commission proposed changing the rules on penalties in 2013, arguing that an agreed scale for penalties would provide a level playing field for companies.

    MEPs will set out their “first reading” position on the legislation tomorrow, before deciding whether to enter into negotiations with national ministers. 

    Customs checks in Portsmouth
  18. MEPs decide not to change debate on time zones

    Debate on plenary agenda

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Green/EFA group co-leader Philippe Lamberts proposes to move a debate on co-ordination of European time zones scheduled for Thursday afternoon. 

    He says there is no reason why the debate could not be brought forward to the morning session, meaning the sitting could end after the lunchtime voting session. 

    However, his request is rejected on a show of hands. 

    Philippe Lamberts
  19. MEPs approve debate swap

    Debate on plenary agenda

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Parliament President Martin Schulz proposes to swap tomorrow morning's debate on EU budget monitoring with a debate scheduled for tomorrow afternoon on EU security measures. 

    The change is approved by a show of hands.   

    Martin Schulz
  20. Good afternoon

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Hello and welcome to coverage of today’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which will begin 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.