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Summary

  1. MEPs ratify the EU's trade deal with Canada by 408 votes to 254
  2. The deal will fully come into force after approval by national parliaments
  3. Debates held on extra Schengen border checks and EU terrorism law
  4. MEPs also discuss recommendations for the future regulation of robots

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

And with that, today's plenary sitting comes to an end. 

MEPs will be back tomorrow from 07.30 GMT, when they will first be debating the EU's aviation strategy.

After this, they will debate and vote on three topical human rights motions.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is due to make a speech at 10.00 GMT, following today's ratification of the EU's trade deal with the country. 

Votes are due after 11.00 GMT on border checks and EU anti-terror laws. 

MEPs debate EU structural funding

Finally tonight, MEPs are debating a non-binding motion on EU structural and regional funding.

The motion says that decisions on allocating EU infrastructure funds should be based on “performance-based” budget targets.

It also says that “experience at regional and local level” where the projects are undertaken should be borne in mind.

MEPs on the regional development committee have also tabled an oral question asking the Commission to use flexibility in the EU budget to make up for late payments to projects. 

Construction site in Madrid
Reuters

Commission 'discussing funding with key players'

Debate on European Cloud Initiative

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Carlos Moedas
BBC

Research and Science Carlos Moedas tells MEPs that the Commission's scheme will provide "part of the answer" of how to deal with very large flows of data in the science sector. 

He says the Commission is preparing a governance and financing plan for the scheme that will be discussed with EU governments this year. 

He says a governance board will be established by the end of the year. 

On the question of funding, he says that the Commission is discussing "sustainable funding instruments" with EU states and "key players", but does not give precise figures. 

MEPs begin debate on science data scheme

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs have now moved on to debating a motion to back the European Commission’s plans to set up an EU-wide data storage system for scientists.

The Commission says an EU-level cloud storage scheme would make it easier for researchers to store and share information.

In the draft motion to be voted on tomorrow, MEPs have asked for clarification on how such a project would be funded.

The Commission has said €6.7bn will be required for the scheme but has so far only identified €2bn in funding, to be drawn from the Horizon 2020 research scheme.

Researchers working in a laboratory
Reuters

MEPs debate German road toll scheme

MEPs move on to their next debate, which is on the Commission's recent agreement with Germany on its plan to introduce road tolls.

In 2015 the German Parliament approved a law that allowed German-registered cars to get a deduction on the charge on their annual vehicle tax bill.

MEPs have tabled an oral question questioning the scale of the amendments to the plan agreed with Berlin, and asking whether the EU executive was right to suspend the anti-discrimination court case it had lodged against the country. 

German road toll sign
EPA

German MEP criticises 'legal personality' proposals

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German conservative Arne Gericke takes issue with one section of the report calling for a "special legal status" for robots. 

The section of the motion notes that the most sophisticated autonomous robots "could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause".

He says move towards a "legal personality" for robots would be unacceptable, and says his ECR group has tabled amendments to change this section of the report.

Arne Gericke
BBC

Robot revolution 'not something to fear' - Czech MEP

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dita Charanzova
BBC

Czech Liberal Dita Charanzova says that it is wrong to think that robots are going to replace everyone's job. 

The move to greater robotics, she says, is "not something to fear". 

Romanian social democrat Victor Negrescu gives his backing to the report's call for the EU to set up an EU agency advising on robotics regulation. 

"Why shouldn't this agency be located in Romania?", he asks. 

Commissioner urges 'ethical approach' to regulation

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Carlos Moedas
BBC

Research and Science Commissioner Carlos Moedas says that robotics have gone from a "futuristic idea" to a "fact of life". 

He says the Commission has long recognised the potential of the sector, and the industry's need for investment. 

He says attempts to frame future rules should be based on an "ethical approach", including reference to the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights

He adds that there are already EU rules in place that apply to robots, and the Commission is "looking at" the need to adjust current legislation.

MEP: Robot rules must address 'good of mankind'

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Mady Delvaux
BBC

Luxembourg Socialist MEP Mady Delvaux says that the discussion about future regulation of robots cannot just be confined to scientists and engineers. 

She says such technologies are already a reality, and a discussion needs to be had about how they can be harnessed for the "good of mankind".

She says that at the moment, it should be a priority to ensure any regulation allows EU firms in this emerging industry to remain internationally competitive. 

She adds that debates about the future impact of robots on the world of work need to address the "re-skilling" of workers. 

MEPs begin debate on future rules for robots

Next up, MEPs are debating a report from the legal affairs committee which calls for new EU legislation in the field of robotics.

The committee’s suggestions are not binding on the EU Commission, which would have to propose any new laws in this area.

A vote on the final report will take place tomorrow lunchtime.

Among its many recommendations, the draft report suggests:

  • a new EU agency to register advanced robots and give technical advice to national regulators
  • robot designers to introduce “kill switches” so robots can be deactivated in emergencies
  • mandatory insurance schemes for robot owners
Robot
AFP

Julian King: 'Upward trend' in use of Schengen database

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sir Julian King
BBC

Sir Julian King says everything possible should be done at the the EU level to support counter-terror efforts from national authorities. 

He says recent attacks on the continent has revealed "some weaknesses" in the way information in shared, and how different systems interact with one another. 

He says there has been an "upward trend" in use of the Schengen Information System (SIS), and the Commission has submitted proposals to improve the system. 

This includes proposals to add more "mandatory obligations" to share information on suspects. 

MEPs move to debate on information sharing

That's the end of the debate on the new Schengen border checks finished - MEPs will vote on the legislation tomorrow morning. 

Commissioner King will stay with MEPs for the next debate, which is on information sharing between EU states on potential terror suspects. 

More MEPs signal support

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Spanish Socialist Juan Fernando López Aguilar says border checks need to be strengthened, but should not be made "too intense".

He says excessive checks would create long delays and would be "hell for our citizens".

Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski, from the ruling Law and Justice party in Poland, lends his support to the new checks, which are "exactly what the EU should be doing". 

Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski
BBC

Liberal MEP signals 'unenthusiastic' support for plans

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch Liberal Sophia in't Veld says her ALDE group will support the Parliament's compromise agreement at the vote tomorrow, but "not with great enthusiasm". 

However she says she is glad that during the negotiations MEPs were able to narrow down the number of potential databases that could be checked under the rule change.   

She adds that the EU is "finding solutions to the wrong problem" - and that the fundamental issue is still a lack of willingness among member states to share information. 

EU countries, she tells MEPs, are not yet making "full use" of the Schengen Information System

Sophia in't Veld
BBC

MEP warns of 'shortcomings' in legislation

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tanja Fajon
BBC

Slovenian social democrat Tanja Fajon says the proposed legislation contains a number of "shortcomings", adding that derogations from the obligation to check against the databases should only be "exceptional". 

At the same, she says she is opposed to the continuation of any further checks at internal borders within the Schengen zone. 

She adds that checks at her country's border with Austria and Croatia could cause long delays by the summer.

Commissioner calls for support for changes

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sir Julian King
BBC

Sir Julian King, who has stayed to represent the Commission in this next debate, says the legal changes should lead to immediate security benefits at the Schengen border. 

He adds that not only will it help to prevent potentially dangerous people from entering the passport-free zone, but it will also help track potential terror threats from travelling to conflict zones. 

He says that the option of introducing targeted checks will apply only to airport borders, and will only be available once an "appropriate risk assessment" has been carried out. 

The provision will generally only apply for 6 months, he adds, with longer periods only allowed if an airport is experiencing infrastructure problems.  

MEPs debate proposals for new Schengen border checks

MEPs are now debating proposals to increase checks at the external border of the passport-free Schengen area.

Under new legislation, holders of EU passports could be checked against the Interpol stolen and lost travel documents database (SLTD) and Schengen Information System (SIS).

The new plans would also apply to non-EU nationals leaving the Schengen zone.

The aim is that extra checks will make it easier to determine someone’s identity and whether they are a potential security threat.

MEPs have agreed a compromise on the new law with member states which will be put to a final vote tomorrow.

The agreement would allow only “targeted” checks at airports in the case of long border delays, under certain circumstances. 

Helmut Schmidt airport in Hamburg
Reuters

MEPs speak in favour of changes

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Heinz Becker
BBC

Austrian centre-right MEP Heinz Becker says he is glad to see the European Parliament "pulling in the same direction" as the European Commission on this legal change. 

He says the changes will improve the ability to tackle both the financing of terror operations and boost efforts to take down terrorist propaganda.

French Socialist Christine Revault D'Allonnes Bonnefoy says he approves the final negotiated text - but warns it will only be effective if the relevant EU states apply it fully. 

MEPs express opposition to changes

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Cornelia Ernst
BBC

German left-wing MEP Cornelia Ernst voices her opposition to the legislative changes, saying some of the new definitions go "far too far".

She says fighting terrorism cannot just be dealt with by judicial means, and calls for better co-operation and better trained police officers. 

Green MEP and onetime French presidential candidate Eva Joly makes a similar point, telling MEPs that anti-terrorism laws are "very often misused" to "step on our liberties". 

She says she does not want the list of terror-related offences to be lengthened any further, as it already contains "too many concepts that are too vague". 

MEP: 'European approach' needed on fighting terrorism

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Czech Liberal Petr Jezek gives his support to the plans, which he says will help create a "truly European approach" to fighting an increasingly transnational threat. 

He says that the EU's legal arsenal will be strengthened by the law change, whist respecting freedoms. 

He adds that "harmonised judicial tools" should also aid co-operation between EU states in anti-terror activities. 

Petr Jezek
BBC

Commissioner: New law will 'strengthen' information sharing

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sir Julian King
BBC

UK Commissioner Sir Julian King, whose brief includes responsibility over security, says the terrorist threat to Europe continues to "change and evolve".

He says that the new changes will allow EU law to align itself with recommendations in the Council of Europe's Convention on Terrorism.

He tells MEPs that under the legal change, the obligation between EU states to share information about potential terror suspects will be "strengthened".

The new legislation would also put a member state that receives information under a legal obligation to take appropriate action, he adds. 

Proposed changes 'strike good balance' - MEP

Debate on EU anti-terror law

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German Christian democrat Monika Hohlmeier, who has drafted Parliament's position on the changes, says they will help Europe to adapt to a changing security landscape. 

She says that the rule change will give the drive against radicalisation and the creation of terror propaganda a footing in EU law. 

She says the text agreed with ministers "strikes a good balance" between powers to fight terrorism and individual rights to free expression. 

Monika Hohlmeier
BBC

MEPs begin debate on EU terror law

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

The sitting will resume in a few minutes, when MEPs will debate proposals to extend the list of terror-related offenses made illegal in EU law.

New legislation will make travelling for terrorist purposes, terrorist training and funding terrorist activities illegal under EU law.

A compromise on the changes has been reached with national ministers and will be put to a final vote tomorrow.

EU states will have 18 months to incorporate the changes into domestic legislation – the UK, Ireland and Denmark will not have to apply them.

Voting session ends

That’s today’s voting session finished. MEPs that didn’t have the chance to speak during the debates will now have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

There will then be a lunchtime break, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 GMT with a debate on a proposal to revise EU terrorism legislation. 

MEPs call for rule change on natural pesticides

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs pass a non-binding motion calling for the EU to revise its authorisation rules in order to promote greater use of naturally-derived pesticides in European farming.

An amendment calling for an easing of the procedure for all pesticides - including ones derived from chemicals - is rejected. 

Pesticides derived from natural ingredients are believed by some to be more environmentally friendly than conventional products.

Currently only six biological pesticides are approved by the EU – they are often refused authorisation for being less effective. 

Tractor spraying a field
Reuters

MEPs take position on EU emissions permit scheme

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also set out their initial position on proposed changes to the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), a scheme introduced around 12 years ago to reduce carbon emissions.

At the request of the MEP who drafted the Parliament's position, MEPs agree to start negotiations with national ministers on the basis of this position, without pushing it to a formal "first reading" vote. 

National ministers are yet to agree on any changes.   

The scheme works by making large power plants buy “allowances” that authorise them to emit greenhouse gases, within an overall agreed limit.

Critics of the current system say it is ineffective because the price of permits is too low and the overall cap has become overly generous due to lower economic activity.

The EU Commission has proposed to increase the speed at which emissions permits are withdrawn from the market in the nine years running up to 2030.

Power plant
Reuters

MEPs also back Canada motions

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

As well as the CETA trade deal, MEPs approve a motion setting out their reasons for approving the agreement. 

They also pass a motion welcoming an EU-Canada partnership agreement to boost co-operation in a number of areas other than trade.

It includes provisions to step up collaboration on security policy, counter-terrorism efforts, fighting organised crime, sustainable development, research and culture.

CETA 'a very good agreement'

Swedish centre-right MEP tweets

CETA ratification 'a dark day for democracy'

UK Green MEP tweets:

MEPs ratify EU-Canada trade deal

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

By 408 votes to 254 with 33 abstentions, the European Parliament has voted to ratify the EU’s trade deal with Canada.

It means the deal can now provisionally come into force from as soon as the end of next month.

Sections of the deal covering investment protection and financial services will come into force once it has been ratified by national parliaments.

The final text eliminates 98% of tariffs on goods, and provisions allowing companies greater access to public sector contracts. 

Voting screen
BBC

Vote to follow...

That’s today’s long debate on CETA finished.

MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session – the ratification motion is the first item on the voting list…

Meeting Mr Champagne

British Conservative MEP tweets

UUP MEP warns against 'quick deals' after Brexit

Debate on EU-Canada trade deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

"If we cannot do a trade deal with Canada, who can we do a trade deal with?", asks UUP MEP James Nicholson, who notes the "significant" economic ties between Northern Ireland and Canada. 

He says he hopes a post-Brexit UK adopts a "balanced" trade approach rather than simply looking to strike deals as quickly as possible, adding: "I believe quick deals are bad deals for the people".

He adds that he has opposed using the agricultural sector as a "bargaining chip" in the EU's trade talks, and will continue to do so in the case of British deals. 

James Nicholson
BBC

Canada 'in line with European values'

Debate on EU-Canada trade deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sylvie Goulard
BBC

French Liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard says that it is right to listen to concerns, by EU trade policy cannot be based on "anxieties".

He says the EU should support a deal with Canada, however, a country "very much in line with our values". 

Labour MEP declares against deal

Labour MEP tweets

Labour MEP: 'No substance' to criticism

Debate on EU-Canada trade deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Labour MEP David Martin speaks in favour of the deal, telling the chamber that the agreement will create employment opportunities. 

He says the right to regulate in the public interest has been defended in the text, accusing critics of having "no substance" in their opposition. 

David Martin
BBC

EU-Canada deal 'step in right direction' - MEP

Debate on EU-Canada trade deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Bernd Lange
BBC

German social democrat Bernd Lange, who chairs the Parliament's international trade committee, highlights the "improvements" that MEPs have fought for in the deal. 

The deal, he adds, is a "step in the right direction for globalisation".    

CETA and the long road to ratification

After reported opposition from governments, the EU Commission announced in July that it considered the deal to be a “mixed agreement”.

This means that before all parts of the deal can come into effect, it has to be approved by national and regional parliaments, as well as MEPs.

Ratification encountered an obstacle late last year after Belgium's French-speaking region of Wallonia demanded stronger safeguards on labour and environmental standards.

Wallonian support for the deal was eventually guaranteed after Belgian PM Charles Michel agreed an addendum to the deal which addressed regional concerns.

Critics have questioned the legal status of the declaration, however. 

Wallonian Council of Ministers
AFP
Wallonian leader Paul Magnette (c) has criticised the CETA deal

UKIP MEP criticises 'political goals' of EU trade policy

Debate on EU-Canada trade deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Lord Dartmouth
BBC

UKIP MEP Lord Dartmouth says the negotiations over CETA show the EU's trade policy is about pursuing "political goals" rather than "economic benefits". 

He criticises previous comments from EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom that trade policy can be used to support "Europe's wider international goals".

He adds that it shows EU countries have to "trade away" their sovereignty to support EU external policy.  

He says the fact the deal lowers tariffs on goods without any free movement requirements shows the claim that accepting EU rules is a precondition for market access is a "big lie". 

Green MEP: Trade must work 'for society as a whole'

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ska Keller
BBC

German Green MEP Ska Keller says CETA is an "agreement of the very old sort".

She adds that the agreement poses a threat to social standards, and the transparency provisions are "even worse" than TTIP, the deadlocked trade deal the EU is trying to negotiate with the US.

The EU should ensure trade policy works for "society as a whole", adding:

we need trade, but we need to do it differently"