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. Donald Tusk speaks in debate on last month's EU leaders' summit
  2. Maltese PM Joseph Muscat and Jean-Claude Juncker debate Malta's EU presidency
  3. Fourteen vice-presidents elected after two rounds of voting
  4. MEPs also debate aid to migrants and EU financial transactions tax

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

MEPs will be back for the final day of this week's plenary tomorrow from 08.00 GMT, when they will debate proposals for a revision of EU social and employment law.

Their recommendations will be among the motions voted on from 11.00 GMT.

MEPs will also debate and vote on human rights motions relating to Indonesia, the Central African Republic and Burundi.  

MEP outlines motion on freight sector

Debate on own-initiative motion

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ms Ayala Sender’s draft report outlines a number of policy proposals to improve the functioning and efficiency of the EU’s freight transport sector.

It calls for EU states accept electronic transport documents, and for the EU Commission to ensure state aid and deficits regulations do not hold back investment in the industry.

It also expresses concern about the impact of border checks within the Schengen area – rising since the migrant crisis – on the competitiveness of the industry. 

Ines Ayala Sender
BBC

MEP to present policy motion

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the debate on migrant camps finished. 

Finally tonight, there will be a short debate on a non-binding “own initiative” motion prepared by Spanish Socialist Inés Ayala Sender of behalf of the Parliament’s transport committee.

The motion, which has already been approved by the committee, will be put to a final 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. 

Commissioner: 'Nobody should feel proud' about situation

Debate on migrant camps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Christos Stylianides
BBC

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides says some migrants are facing the "harshest winter conditions we have seen for decades". 

He says the EU has allocated "enough money" but difficulties on the ground have not allowed it to be spent in "the best way" to cope with an unprecedented situation. 

He adds that "nobody should feel proud" about the situation they are in - adding that the EU has a "moral obligation" to offer people in the camps dignity.

He says he and the EU's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, are "exploring all possible options" to help local government authorities in Greece. 

MEPs begin debate on migrant camps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on negotiations for an EU-wide financial transactions tax finished.

Next they have been joined by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides to debate whether the EU should grant emergency aid to countries where migrants are in freezing conditions.

Much of Europe continues to be hit by icy weather with strong winds.

Dozens of migrants have died in the extreme cold. Thousands in the Balkans live in tents with little heating. 

A migrant camp on the island of Lesbos
AFP

MEPs clash over need for tax

Debate on EU financial transactions tax

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Croatian Conservative Ruža Tomasic sets out her opposition to the tax - predicting that it would lead to economic activity leaving the countries where it is charged. 

She adds that this would have a wider impact on businesses in other sectors and would bring "damaging consequences" to the EU economy. 

However, German left-wing MEP Fabio de Masi defends the idea, putting it in the context of falling wages on workers after the financial crisis.

He says criticism from financial institutions is overblown - and the 10 states still interested in the plan "must finally deliver" on it.

Fabio de Masi
BBC

EU tax would ensure 'fair' contribution from banks - Commissioner

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says the Commission still supports its decision from 2013 to allow the 10 states the legal permission to push ahead with the plan.

She says adding an EU-wide tax on top of the national transaction taxes that already exist would "reduce the number of divergent national approaches" on the continent. 

She adds that the tax would also ensure EU banks make a "fair and substantial" contribution to public revenue. 

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Malta representative: New law possible 'in coming months'

Debate on financial transactions tax

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ian Borg
BBC

On behalf of Malta's EU presidency, EU Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg tells MEPs that negotiations on the tax are "very complex" and have "turned out to be quite time-consuming".

He says that Malta will help facilitate negotiations between the 10 countries that want to push ahead with the plan, although Malta is not one of them. 

He adds that there has recently been "further progress" on elements of the proposals, and that legislation could be drafted "in the coming months".

He says that if the text is passed by the 10 EU states - under the so-called enhanced co-operation procedure - the "rights" of the other countries must be respected. 

Debate on financial transaction tax begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Welcome back to coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Shortly MEPs will begin the first of three debates this evening, on the current state of negotiations for an EU-wide financial transactions tax. 

Plans to introduce an EU-wide tax were scuppered in mid-2012, because not enough member states agreed to it.

However, 10 member states – including France and Germany – say they still wanted to go ahead with the tax amongst themselves. 

A tax on financial transactions is reportedly among a number of measures suggested by former Italian PM Mario Monti in a report on how the EU can change its income streams. 

Frankfurt skyline
Reuters
Frankfurt-based banks could be hit by the levy

Sitting suspended

European Parliament

Strasbourg

After a quick electronic vote, MEPs confirm the order of precedence of the five new quaestors. 

With the election of these posts along with the 14 vice-presidents now settled, Mr Tajani announces that tonight's three debates will be brought forward by half an hour to 19.00 GMT. 

The sitting is now adjourned until then. 

MEPs start ballot for administrative posts

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on last month’s EU leaders’ summit finished.

MEPs will now hold a round of voting to establish the order of precedence of five new quaestors – MEPs who look after the administrative and financial needs of members.

There are only five candidates standing for the five available posts, so they automatically gain election to the post. 

Tusk predicts 'daily' need to comment on Trump

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Donald Tusk
BBC

Donald Tusk sums up the debate with a short speech, adding that he felt the speeches showed Europe "is united" in the face of Brexit negotiations. 

He says he does not want to add more to Donald Trump's comments on the EU, telling MEPs that he is "afraid we will have too many opportunities" to do that once he becomes President. 

The need to comment, he adds, might become "daily work". 

Front National MEP criticises Turkey deal

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Gilles Lebreton
BBC

French Front National MEP Gilles Lebreton says he was disappointed with the outcome of the summit, which he says shows the EU is determined with its "disastrous migration policy". 

In particular he criticises the continuation of the EU's controversial migration deal with Turkey, a country he says is distancing itself everyday "from the values of European civilization". 

UKIP leader warns against 'slow-motion Brexit'

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Paul Nuttall
BBC

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall begins by telling MEPs that recent terror attacks in Europe show that the issues of security and migration "go hand in hand".

Turning swiftly to the matter of Brexit, he says he welcomes "some" of Theresa May's speech yesterday - particularly the pledge to leave the European single market. 

However he says is concerned by some aspects of her plan, including mention of transitional arrangements which he says could be "Whitehall speak for a slow-motion Brexit".

He adds that he was also disappointed by no mention of "immediate migration controls", noting that an extra million people could have arrived in the UK before formal exit. 

Adding that Britain is "not some sort of small nation", he warns EU negotiators against "empty threats", adding: 

Britain is not bluffing. Britain will not be bullied."

Verhofstadt 'disappointed' by EU reaction to Trump

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, the Liberal ALDE group leader and Brexit observer for the Parliament, also picks up on Donald Trump's comments last week that more countries might leave the EU. 

He says that he was "disappointed" by the EU's reaction to the comments, which he calls "insane".

He adds that this Friday - when Mr Trump is due to be inaugurated - will mark a "turning point" for the EU and boosts the need to agree reforms. 

He says that the EU will seek a "fair" Brexit agreement with the UK, but repeats comments he has made before that the deal must not leave Britain better off outside than in. 

Weber: EU 'not in mood to punish' UK

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
BBC

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says that the EU is "not in a mood to punish" the UK as a result of Brexit. 

He says that he is unclear about the plan to replicate aspects of single market membership via a free trade deal, adding that he is not certain "whether we are talking about leaving or not".

He adds though that the EU should not accept that in the future the euro is "managed largely in the City of London". 

Tusk: Indivisibility of freedoms 'finally understood by London'

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Donald Tusk
BBC

On Brexit, Donald Tusk states that EU leaders agreed procedural matters for how the negotiations will pan out once Article 50 has been triggered. 

He adds that the remaining 27 EU states maintained a "unified position" on the indivisibility of the four freedoms of goods, services, capital and freedom. 

He adds that Theresa May's speech yesterday showed that this stance "was finally understood and accepted by London".

He warns however that there will be "no place for pick and choose tactics" in future negotiations.

However, he says he welcomes the "warm and balanced" tone of the speech on the matter of future European integration - noting that the tone was "closer to Churchill" than recent comments from incoming US President Donald Trump.

Tusk: Solution to Dutch referendum 'lies with Netherlands'

Debate on December leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Donald Tusk
BBC

European Council President Donald Tusk begins with a recap on measures agreed by leaders over migration and Libya. 

He tells MEPs that responsibility for dealing with Dutch voters' rejection of the EU's association agreement with Ukraine "lies with the Netherlands". 

He says leaders called for an agreement on a new entry-exit system for the Schengen area to be agreed by June - which he acknowledges is a "tough" deadline. 

Debate on EU summit begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
BBC

That’s the second round of voting for the vice-president positions finished – all 14 positions have now been filled. Non-attached MEP Indrek Tarand is the only unsuccessful candidate. 

Next this afternoon, MEPs have been joined by European Council President Donald Tusk and Investment Commissioner Jykri Katainen to debate last month’s EU leaders’ summit.

At the meeting in Brussels, leaders decided how to respond to Dutch voters’ rejection of a partnership agreement with Ukraine in April, and the situation in Syria.

The remaining 27 EU countries also agreed certain procedural steps for Brexit negotiations, including appointing the EU Commission as the bloc’s negotiating body. 

Voting resumes on V-P elections

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the debate on Malta’s EU presidency finished, MEPs are now going to hold a second round of voting to fill the remaining four vice-president positions.

A total of 10 out of the 14 positions were filled at a first round vote this morning. 

If the posts are not filled after this second secret ballot, then a third and final vote will be held electronically later to fill the remaining positions.

Good luck

Bulgaria's PM tweets

Malta PM signals dangers of 'postponing' migration decisions

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joseph Muscat
BBC

Maltese PM Joseph Muscat sums up the debate by telling MEPs that there is a disagreement as to whether to see the migration crisis as a humanitarian crisis or security threat.  

"Maybe we're both right," he adds, before saying that action should be taken now to ensure more drastic measures are not needed down the line. 

He adds that as an island, Malta is not capable of "building a wall in the sea".

The EU, he says, will run into greater trouble by seeking to "postpone" action - noting that a "perfect solution" to the issue will never be found. 

Commission will be 'strong ally' for Malta

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jyrki Katainen
BBC

With the debate among MEPs having finished, EU Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen makes a speech to sum up for the Commission. 

He is speaking in place of Jean-Claude Juncker, who has left the chamber. 

He says that Malta will have a "strong ally" for its EU presidency from the European Commission.

He adds that he also welcomes the emphasis on "European-level structural reforms", such as through reforms to the working of the single market. 

EU must show 'benefits of membership' - Maltese MEP

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Maltese social democrat Marlene Mizzi says her country now needs to take action so that EU citizens can "feel the benefits of membership". 

She lists a revising the so-called Dublin rules on migration and achieving the complete abolition of mobile roaming charges as two priority areas. 

A full ban on roaming fees is due to come into force in June - but still depends on an agreement on a separate piece of EU legislation to set the "wholesale fees" telecoms companies will be able to charge each other. 

'Gloomy prospects' of Brexit becoming clear - French MEP

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Franck Proust
BBC

French centre-right MEP Franck Proust urges the remaining EU states to "stand firm" against an "a la carte union" during the Brexit talks. 

He claims that the "gloomy prospects" of leaving the EU are "now becoming clear to the British". 

Reading between the lines

Guardian Brussels correspondent tweets

Verhofstadt criticises Trump EU prediction

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, the Liberal ALDE group who is acting as the Parliament's observer at Brexit talks, also stays tight-lipped for the moment on British relations, noting that the matter will probably be discussed during this afternoon's debate on December's EU leaders' summit.  

Instead, he castigates incoming US President Donald Trump for "openly saying" earlier this week that more countries could decide to leave the EU. 

He adds that he has never seen or heard an American president say such a thing, adding that it should act as a "wake-up call" to the EU to push for reforms. 

Kamall urges Malta to seize Brexit 'opportunity'

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Syed Kammall
BBC

British Conservative Syed Kamall, who leads the ECR group, warns that bringing the EU closer to its citizens will not require "legislating every aspect of people's lives".

He adds that he hopes Malta will see Brexit as an opportunity for creating the basis for a "mutually beneficial relationship" with the UK after it leaves the EU. 

Portuguese MEP urges development co-operation

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Maria João Rodrigues
BBC

On behalf of the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, Portuguese MEP Maria João Rodrigues says that the idea of creating a "social Europe" should be put at the heart of EU policy. 

She notes that a long-term solution to the migration crisis will require working with countries in Africa to "help them address their development problems". 

'Little delivery' on migration - Weber

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
BBC

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says EU states have produced "so many promises, so little delivery" on migration measures. 

He says he thanks Malta for its support for the conclusion of the EU's free trade deal with Canada - which still has to be ratified by the European Parliament. 

Juncker Dublin timetable 'optimistic'

Financial Times Brussels correspondent tweets:

Juncker welcomes May speech

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jean-Claude Juncker
BBC

There's only a brief mention of Brexit from EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who says simply that he welcomes Mrs May's speech yesterday. 

Addressing MEPs, he notes, however, that "a speech alone cannot trigger negotiations" - which will only take place once Article 50 is formally activated. 

He pledges that the EU executive will do everything to ensure the talks "yield good results".

Message delivered

Labour MEP tweets

Evaluation of Malta's priorities

The Economist tweets

Malta PM: Brexit deal 'must be inferior to membership'

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joseph Muscat
BBC

Joseph Muscat says that it is an "historic irony" that Malta, an ex-British colony, will chair the EU presidency at the time when the UK activates Article 50. 

He says that remaining EU states are committed to striking a "fair deal" with the UK, but any final deal will "necessarily need to be inferior to membership". 

He adds that thinking otherwise would be a "detachment from reality".

He tells MEPs that there is "unequivocal unity" among EU states to preserve the indivisibility of the four freedoms of goods, services, capital and people.

The Maltese PM also adds that he would like to see the European Parliament be involved "as much as possible" in the Brexit talks once underway. 

Muscat: EU states 'stuttering' over migration

Debate on Malta EU presidency

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joseph Muscat
BBC

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tells MEPs that his country's presidency will be a "fair partner" for the European Parliament over the next six months.  

Mr Muscat - who is himself an ex-MEP - says his country has decided to focus on six areas, including strengthening the single market and migration. 

He says that migration has only been recognised as a priority "only recently" - he praises the EU institutions for their leadership on the issue. 

He adds that any "stuttering" over the problem comes from EU governments. 

Debate on Malta presidency begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the vote to decide the numerical strength of each of the standing committees finished.

MEPs have now been joined by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to debate his country’s plans for its time in charge of the EU’s rotating presidency, which began this month.

Over the next six months, the country will be in charge of organising and chairing meetings of the Council of the EU, where national ministers meet to debate and vote on EU legislation.

Having taken over the role from Slovakia, this is the first time that the country has held the presidency position since it joined the EU in 2004.

MEPs decide size of groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs approve a motion confirming the numerical strength of the Parliament’s 20 standing committees.

Under the assembly’s rules, the composition of each committee must reflect the numerical strength of the eight political groups as closely as possible.

MEPs will vote to appoint individual members to each committee during tomorrow’s session.

The new committees will then meet next Monday, when they will each elect their chair and vice-chair.

Normally the political groups will have already decided on which candidates they will support for each post, in return for ensuring majorities for their own MEPs. 

MEPs decide not to bring forward vote

Votes on week's agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Judith Sargentini
BBC

On behalf of the Green/EFA group, Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini proposes to bring forward tomorrow's vote on whether to reject a proposed blacklist of countries with possible links to money laundering and terror financing drawn up by the European Commission.

However, the proposal is rejected - meaning the vote will still take place tomorrow. 

MEPs change debate times

Votes on week's agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Mr Tajani says that, after consulting the political groups, he would like to bring forward tomorrow's debate on emergency aid for migrant camps affected by cold weather to this evening. 

A planned debate on intelligence sharing between EU security agencies would therefore be postponed until the plenary session next month. 

The change is not opposed, and therefore carried.