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Summary

  1. MEPs debate changes to anti-corruption laws in Romania
  2. They also discuss cross-border rules for recognising adoptions
  3. EU visa waiver for Georgia approved at vote

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Short speeches begin

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    That’s the voting finished. MEPs will now have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted. 

  2. MEPs pass EU-Georgia visa waiver

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    MEPs give approval to the EU visa waiver for Georgia they debated this morning. 

    The new travel rights will allow Georgians to travel within the EU for up to three months without a visa – but it will not apply to either the UK or Ireland, which are exempt.

    EU citizens have been able to travel to Georgia visa-free for short stays since June 2006.

    The vote on the new rights took a step forward last month after MEPs approved new emergency powers for suspending the travel rights in certain circumstances. 

  3. MEPs pass banana tariff measures

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    MEPs also give their approval to changes to an EU trade deal with Ecuador that would make it easier for the EU to re-impose higher tariffs on banana imports.

    The so-called “safeguard mechanism” was included in the deal to protect banana producers in the EU – largely confined to overseas territories of Spain, France and Portugal.

    Producers in EU countries currently produce around 11% of the bananas consumed in the bloc.

    Ecuador’s accession to the trade deal, which already covered Colombia and Peru, was ratified by the European Parliament last month.

    Bananas at stall
  4. MEPs pass report on adoption

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    MEPs also give their approval to the report they debated this morning which recommends changes to EU law to improve the recognition of adopted children.

    The report from says that parents currently face a number of administrative problems in getting their adopted children recognised if they move to another EU state.

    It calls for an EU regulation to increase mutual recognition of legal adoptions and establish a European Certificate of Adoption.

    The recommendations in the report, which have been drawn up by the legal affairs committee, will not be binding on either the EU Commission or national governments.

  5. MEPs pass report on sport

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    MEPs begin by passing a non-binding report from the Culture and Education Committee on the EU’s action plan for sport.

    Among the many recommendations in the report is a call for the Commission to consider making “third party” ownership of sports players illegal under EU law.

    Third-party ownership of players is whereby private investors, it can be an individual, company, or fund, own part of a player's economic rights.

    The practice was banned by world football governing body Fifa in 2007, although some player agents are believed to have found ways around the regulations.

    The report’s recommendations will not be binding on either the EU Commission or national governments. 

  6. Votes soon

    With this morning's debates having finished, MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session, which will get underway shortly.

  7. MEPs begin debate on adoption rules

    Mother and father and their child

    MEPs are now debating a report from the Parliament’s legal affairs committee, which recommends changes to EU law to improve the recognition of adopted children.

    The report says that parents currently face a number of administrative problems in getting their adopted children recognised if they move to another EU state.

    It calls for an EU regulation to increase mutual recognition of legal adoptions and establish a European Certificate of Adoption. 

  8. UKIP MEP criticises 'fiddling' with EU visa rules

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Gerard Batten

    UKIP MEP Gerard Batten accuses the EU of "fiddling" with visa rules while the Treaty of Rome "burns".

    He says the Parliament should remember that opposition to "mass, uncontrolled immigration" was an important part of the UK's Brexit vote last year. 

    Referencing Samuel Johnson's quote about the road to London being the noblest prospect for Scots, he says it remains true that the best thing about a number of eastern European countries is the "road somewhere else". 

  9. MEPs criticise visa link to new powers

    Debate on Georgia visa waiver

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Bodil Valero

    Latvian social democrat Andrejs Mamikins is among those criticising the decision from EU governments to link the visa waiver to the new emergency powers. 

    He says the move was a "bad idea" and has made the process of granting the waiver "ugly". 

    Swedish Green Bodil Valero is of the same mind, adding that the proposal could have been passed much earlier. 

    Georgia has met the waiver criteria "for years now", she adds.

  10. Emergency powers and visa-free travel

    People walk at an old town of Tbilisi

    The vote today to grant visa-free travel to Georgians comes after MEPs last month gave their final approval to new emergency powers for suspending the travel rights.

    The new legislation would allow either the Commission or a majority of EU states to suspend a country’s visa exemptions if there is a large increase in asylum requests.

    It would also be easier to re-impose the need to apply for a visa if a country’s nationals stay in the EU longer than allowed, or if there is a risk to the bloc’s “internal security”.

    Putting in place the new powers was seen as a crucial pre-condition for granting visa-free travel in the Schengen area to Georgia – and opens the door to a similar deal for Ukraine

  11. MEP calls for support at vote

    Debate on EU-Georgia visa waiver

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Mariya Gabriel

    Bulgarian centre-right MEP Mariya Gabriel, who has acted as Parliament's lead negotiator on the proposal, gives her support to passing the visa waiver today. 

    She says that the visa waiver will help the EU "strengthen and deepen" its relations with Georgia and help to promote "European values" in the country.

    She says that offering visa-free travel has proven to be an "effective instrument" of external relations policy for the bloc. 

  12. MEPs begin debate on Georgia visa waiver

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    That’s the debate on Romania finished. MEPs are now debating plans to grant visa-free travel rights to Georgia.

    Later this morning, MEPs will decide whether to approve the new travel rights, which will allow Georgians to travel within the EU for up to three months without a visa.

    The visa waiver will not apply to either the UK or Ireland, which are exempt from the proposal.

    EU citizens have been able to travel to Georgia visa-free for short stays since June 2006. 

  13. Romanian MEPs clash over changes

    Debate on anti-corruption laws in Romania

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Monica Macovei

    Romanian MEP Monica Macovei, who sits in the Conservative ECR group, says that officials in the governing Social Democratic Party will be able to escape prosecution as a result of the changes. 

    She calls for the emergency ordinances to be revoked before the end of next week, when they would normally take effect.  

    However another Romanian MEP, Norica Nicolai, whose ALDE group is part of the governing coalition in the country, warns against "knee-jerk reaction" to the changes. 

    She accuses Frans Timmermans of "intervening to overturn a legitimate political decision", which she says is in line with the Romanian constitution. 

  14. MEPs call for action

    Debate on anti-corruption laws in Romania

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Esteban Gonzalez Pons

    Spanish centre-right MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons says he is "concerned" by developments in Romania, which are "watering down the battle against corruption".

    He adds that membership of the EU is not just about "sharing borders and receiving funds" but also about sharing a certain set of values.

    Austrian social democrat Josef Weidenholzer says there are "fundamental principles at stake" in the passage of the new laws, including the independence of the judiciary.  

    He says that the Parliament's civil liberties committee should lead a fact finding mission to Romania.  

  15. Commissioner calls on Romania to 'reconsider' new laws

    European Parliament

    Brussels

    Frans Timmermans

    European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans tells MEPs that the situation in Romania is "worrying".

    He says that the laws passed earlier this week represent a "step back from the progress we have seen in the last decade" in the country to strengthen the rule of law. 

    Adding that the changes might involve the eventual "dispersal" of EU funds, he says he wants to call on the government to "reconsider" its plans. 

  16. Good morning

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

    The sitting will be kicking off shortly, when MEPs will first be debating changes to corruption laws in Romania.

    It comes after the country’s new government passed a decree on Tuesday that could free dozens of officials in jail for corruption.

    The emergency decree decriminalises several offences and makes abuse of power punishable by incarceration only if it results in a monetary loss of more than €44,000.

    Tens of thousands have protested over recent days - less than a month after Romania's new government took power.

    The EU has warned Romania over "backtracking" in its efforts against corruption.

    Protests in Bucharest
    Image caption: The move has sparked protests in Bucharest