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Summary

  1. MEPs debate this month's European Council summit
  2. Commissioner defends rule of law during debate on Catalonia
  3. They also discuss mis-spending of EU funds in 2016
  4. New body to prosecute fraud against EU budget debated

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

    And with that, tonight's debate comes to an end.

    MEPs are back for the final day of this plenary session tomorrow, when they will first debate a committee report into European prison conditions.

    Debates on human rights motions will follow, with three motions put to the vote from 11.00 BST.

  2. MEPs debate safety of lorry drivers

    Migrants sit in front of a lorry near Calais

    Finally this evening, MEPs will be debating the safety of lorry drivers on EU roads.

    It follows the death of a van driver in Calais after it crashed into a lorry that had been forced to stop because of a blockade of tree trunks set up by migrants.

    The tactic has reportedly been used by migrants wishing to slow lorries so they can jump aboard.

    In an oral question, MEPs from the centre-right EPP group say drivers are facing “unprecedented challenges” and ask what more can be done at an EU level to improve safety.

  3. MEPs debate fate of journalists held in Spain

    Hamza Yalçin
    Image caption: Hamza Yalçin (L) held a press conference with his lawyer last week

    MEPs are now debating the arrest of two writers with dual Swedish-Turkish and German-Turkish nationalities in Spain.

    Hamza Yalçin and Doğan Akhanlı were held in August after Turkey requested their extradition using Interpol "red notices”.

    They have both subsequently been granted conditional release but have to stay in Spain whilst Turkey’s extradition requests are considered.

    Dogan Akhanli has written extensively about human rights in Turkey; Hamza Yalçin lives in Sweden where he edits a Turkish-language online publication which is critical of the Ankara government.

    Turkey faces criticism around Europe for its treatment of journalists after the 2016 failed coup.

  4. MEP: EU prosecutor 'necessary' for enforcement

    Debate on EU prosecutor for budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Maite Pagazaurtundua

    Spainsh liberal Maite Pagazaurtundua gives her support for the new agency, which she says is "absolutely necessary" because of doubts about some national prosecutors.

    This will prevent EU funds being spent on criminal or terrorist activity, she adds.

    Portuguese Communist Joao Pimenta Lopes says he is opposed to the EPPO because it "reduces the possibility" of national prosecutors to intervene.

    It will end up with the EU prosecutors "going over the heads" of national constitutions and legal systems, he says.

  5. MEPs disagree over agency participation

    Debate on EU prosecutor for budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Jan Philipp Albrecht

    Another German MEP, the Green Jan Philipp Albrecht, says Hungary and Poland would "do themselves a favour" by deciding to join the scheme.

    France is one of the countries taking part - but Front National MEP Gilles LeBreton says he is opposed to the idea, as it will "take away powers from national prosecutors".

    Co-operation on cross-border cases should be on a "case-by-case basis", he adds.

  6. German MEP: Hungary and Poland should join

    Debate on EU prosecutor for budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann

    German social democrat Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann says it is regrettable that both Hungary and Poland have decided not to participate in the new body.

    She adds that this is especially so since both countries are among the biggest per capita recipients of EU spending - and calls upon both countries to join.

  7. EPPO – the back story

    EU flags outside the European Parliament

    Plans to create the body were first tabled in 2013 but initially failed to win the required backing of all national governments.

    The UK was among countries that expressed concern about the plans – and like Denmark and Ireland, has chosen to use its right to opt-out.

    Having failed to reach the required agreement of the remaining 25 countries, a total of 20 member states have now agreed to set up the body anyway using a special procedure.

    Last week French President Emmanuel Macron suggested there should also be a European prosecutor for investigating terrorism and organised crime.

  8. EU budget prosecutor 'will be game-changer' - Commissioner

    Debate on EU prosecutor for budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Vera Jourova

    Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova says effective investigations are "essential" to counter abuses.

    The new body will permit a "truly European" approach in conducting these investigations, she adds, calling it a "game-changer".

    There should be "no duplication" of work with the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF, she pledges.

    She adds that the remaining states who have not decided to join will be welcomed with "open arms" if they decide to do so at a later date.

  9. MEPs debate new EU prosecutor for budget

    A gavel

    MEPs are now debating legislation to set up an EU body charged with investigating and prosecuting cases of fraud against the bloc’s budget.

    Currently allegations of fraud involving EU funds are handled by national prosecutors.

    The new European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) will be based in Luxembourg, charged with overseeing special EU prosecutors in participating member states.

    MEPs will decide whether to ratify the draft legislation tomorrow, but are not able to amend it. Under the plan, the EPPO will not be able to start work for at least another three years.

  10. MEP: Error rate decline 'should be recognised'

    Brian Hayes

    Irish Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes says that, since EU funds are a small part of total public money spent within the member states, it needs to be spent "to the best of our abilities".

    It is "not fair", he says, for some MEPs not to recognise the "significant improvement" in the error rate over the last three years.

  11. MEP: EU rules should be simplified

    Debate on European Court of Auditors report

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Joachim Zeller

    German Christian democrat Joachim Zeller says the decline in the error level to 3.1% is "encouraging".

    He says that the error rate can reflect the complexity of EU spending rules more than actual fraud - and calls for another look at simplifying them.

    Czech Liberal Martina Dlabajova says the "usefulness and added value" of projects should also be reviewed.

  12. ECA chief: Spending backlog 'higher than ever'

    Debate on European Court of Auditors report

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    ECA President Klaus-Heiner Lehne tells MEPs that there has been a "sustained improvement" over the last few years in the error level of spending.

    He says that in 2016, "around half" of EU spending was found to be below the 2% target.

    He adds that this led the Court to deliver a "qualified" opinion on the health of the accounts rather than an "adverse" one - the first time since the statements began in 1994.

    He warns however that the backlog of unpaid spending commitments is "higher than ever" and resolving the issue should be a priority.

    Klaus-Heiner Lehne
  13. MEPs debate EU mis-spending in 2016

    Euros

    MEPs will now be joined by European Court of Auditors (ECA) President Klaus-Heiner Lehne to discuss levels of mis-spending of EU funds last year.

    Last week the ECA’s annual report found that 3.1% of EU funds were mis-spent during 2016.

    This is a drop on the 3.8% recorded for spending in 2015, but still above the ECA’s 2% target.

    The body also sounded the alarm over a huge backlog of €238m in unpaid spending commitments that may need to be sorted in the next long-term budget from 2020.

  14. Spanish MEP: Treaty 'imposes liberal economic model'

    Debate on Catalan referendum

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Miguel Urban Crespo

    Spanish Podemos MEP Miguel Urban Crespo says the treaty has been used in an undemocratic manner to "impose a liberal economic model" on the signatory countries.

    Incorporating it into the treaties will only exacerbate the tensions between EU states, he adds.

    Swedish centre-right MEP Gunnar Hokmark says that austerity is caused by countries not being able to control their deficits.

    Reigning in public spending to an appropriate level will instead "hinder the road to austerity", he adds.

  15. MEPs debate 'fiscal compact' treaty

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    That's the debate on Catalonia finished - MEPs are now debating attempts to incorporate the “fiscal compact” into the EU’s treaties.

    A total of 25 out of the then 27 EU members signed up to the pact in 2012 – the Czech Republic and the UK opted out.

    The treaty requires states to incorporate balanced budget rules into their national legislation, and gives the EU’s top court the power to fine those who break them.

    An article in the treaty states that “necessary steps” should be taken to do this before January next year.

  16. Timmermans: 'Dialogue should start immediately'

    Debate on Catalan referendum

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Frans Timmermans

    Summing up the short debate, Frans Timmermans tells MEPs that respect for the rule of law is the only way "for the European Union as a whole to function".

    It is, he says, the "only thing that protects the weak from the powerful".

    He reiterates that "the only way forward is dialogue", which he says should start "immediately".

  17. Spain 'has handed initiative' to Catalan nationalists

    Debate on Catalan referendum

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Raymond Finch

    UKIP's Raymond Finch also condemns the Spanish authorities' handling of the vote, which he calls "brutal and counter-productive".

    Their actions have "handed the initiative" to the Catalan nationalists, he adds - whilst the EU has used "legalistic verbiage" in place of proper condemnation.

    He tells MEPs that in their actions, the Spanish government has created "a template that every independence movement on our continent can use to promote unrest".

    His ex-colleague Steven Woolfe, who now sits as an independent, accuses the EU of being "critically silent" over the use of police force.

  18. EU should act as 'honest broker' - Green MEP

    Debate on Catalan referendum

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Ska Keller

    German MEP Ska Keller, a co-leader of the Green/EFA group, says Spain should "refrain from using police violence against peaceful people".

    The dispute must be solved politically, she says.

    She says that the European Commission should be prepared to get involved as an "honest broker" between the Spanish and Catalan authorities - saying this is "not just an internal matter".

    "This is something I would really expect from the European Union", she adds.