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Summary

  1. MEPs debate 'Paradise Papers' tax leaks
  2. New powers for enforcing EU consumer laws approved
  3. MEPs debate levels of corruption in Malta
  4. They also discuss relations with non-EU Eastern European countries
  5. New method for tackling unfair trade subsidies debated in evening

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Coming up tomorrow...

    That's all for today's European Parliament plenary sitting.

    MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 GMT, when they will be debating the EU's ongoing probe into rule of law in Poland, before voting on a motion at lunchtime.

    A debate on the winter conditions in migrant camps follows, before Slovak President Andrej Kiska makes speech at 11.00 GMT.

    They will later debate new carbon emissions reduction targets for cars and vans, plus the impact of Russia's EU food import ban on farmers.

  2. MEPs debate application of nature directives

    A woman feeds seagulls by the Inner Alster Lake in Germany

    Finally tonight, MEPs are debating an oral question tabled by the environment committee about implementation of the EU’s nature directives.

    The European Commission launched an action plan earlier this year to improve application of the laws, including the birds and habitats directives.

    MEPs on the committee say this plan is an “important step forward”, but is considered insufficient to meet the EU’s biodiversity goals for 2020.

    They are asking the European Commission what it is doing to “mainstream” biodiversity measures with the common agricultural and fisheries policies.

  3. MEPs debate aid to Africa

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    MEPs are now debating how the EU should spend development aid in African countries.

    Tomorrow they will vote on an advisory report from the development committee ahead of a summit on the issue scheduled for the end of this month.

    In recent times the EU has signed pacts with a number of African countries to deal with mass migration, plus extended its public-private investment plan to the continent.

    The draft report calls on member states to pledge more money for EU development projects designed to tackle the “root causes” of migration.

  4. UKIP MEP: EU tariff decisions 'too clumsy'

    Debate on emergency tariff rules

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Bill Dartmouth

    UKIP's Bill Dartmouth says that although the framework for trade is international, there is an "EU problem" with the way emergency tariffs are applied.

    He says the EU's recent decision to put a 40% tariff on Chinese steel of was "too little, too late".

    By contrast, the United States was able to put a 300% tariff on the same product much more quickly, which "really worked", he says.

    The case showed that the decision-making process of the EU is "just too large" and "too clumsy", he says.

  5. Committee chair backs new rules

    Debate on emergency tariff rules

    Bernd Lange

    The new system also gets the blessing of German social democrat and International Trade Committee chair Bernd Lange, who calls the Commission's proposals "intelligent".

    Countries outside the EU can benefit unfairly from subsidised energy or other preferences, he says, which give them a "structural advantage" on the market, adding:

    Quote Message: In that case, we need to act."
  6. Malmstrom: Change will help EU tackle trade 'distortions'

    Debate on emergency tariff rules

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Cecilia Malmstrom

    Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says the new methodology will allow the EU to better tackle "significant distortions" in imports from "any WTO country".

    It will hope to promote a "level playing field" by countering actions which undermine market principles in the world trade system, she adds.

    She also notes that the new methodology will also contain criteria relating to social and environmental standards, which she calls an "important development".

  7. MEPs debate new framework for emergency tariffs

    Chinese steel factory
    Image caption: The EU raised tariffs against rolled Chinese steel earlier this year

    MEPs are now discussing proposed changes to the EU’s rulebook for putting exceptional tariffs on imported goods that have been significantly subsidised by a non-EU government.

    The additional duties are meant to protect European producers from unfair competition.

    The rule change was proposed last year in response to China’s demands to be classed as a market economy, ten years after a protocol in its WTO membership lapsed.

    The new regime will introduce a new way of calculating whether a product has been exported into the EU at a lower price than in its domestic market - a practice known as "dumping".

    MEPs have reached a deal on the changes with national ministers that will be voted on tomorrow.

  8. MEP underlines 'uneven progress' on EU reforms

    Debate on Eastern Partnership scheme

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Dariusz Rosati

    Centre-right Polish MEP Dariusz Rosati says his colleagues should accept that progress towards EU-sanctioned reforms "has been uneven" among the six partner countries.

    He says the EU should adopt a "more for more, less for less" approach when it comes to offering economic and political integration in return for fulfilling conditions.

    UKIP's James Carver intervenes, telling MEPs that the Easter Partnership programme underlines the "neocolonialist ambitions" of the bloc for eastward expansion.

    Mr Rosati replies that not every country will want to join the EU but that "everyone is welcome, provided that the conditions are fulfilled".

  9. Commissioner cautious on MEPs' proposals

    Debate on Eastern Partnership scheme

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Cecilia Malmstrom

    Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom tells MEPs that the Eastern Partnership Summit later this month will be an opportunity to "inject new dynamism" into the EU's relations with the six countries.

    She says the Commission "takes note" of the proposals suggested in the committee's report to allow some countries to participate in certain EU schemes - the so-called "EaP+" model.

    However she says that whilst the EU must be "ambitious" it must also be "realistic" - and should maintain the "inclusive" nature of the existing partnership scheme for all countries.

  10. MEPs debate relations with eastern European countries

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    MEPs are now debating an advisory report from the foreign affairs committee about ways the EU could create closer ties with non-EU eastern European countries.

    The EU’s Eastern Partnership scheme was launched in 2009 to boost relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

    The draft report, to be voted on tomorrow, recommends that the EU should set up a “trust fund” to promote investment in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

    It also suggests that countries that have made progress on reforms requested by the EU might be allowed to join the EU’s customs union, energy policy or passport-free Schengen area.

  11. MEPs criticise US trade stance under Trump

    Debate on WTO conference

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Spanish Socialist Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández says Donald Trump is undermining the "raison d'être" of the WTO.

    In response, Europe should promote a trade policy that "puts people first", she says.

    Dutch liberal Marietje Schaake says that the US President has "no desire" to advance a vision of trade based on a multilateral system.

    Recent actions by the US to try and block the appointment of judges to an appellate body are a "troubling case in point", she says.

    Marietje Schaake
  12. MEPs debate WTO trade conference

    Containers at Hamburg port

    Next up, MEPs have been joined by trade commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom to debate a forthcoming international trade conference.

    Trade ministers from World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries will meet in Argentina next month.

  13. Maltese MEP takes aim at 'partisan' motion

    Debate on rule of law in Malta

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Another member of Malta's governing Labour party, Marlene Mizzi, also criticises today's debate.

    The main motion drafted by five of the Parliament's political groups, which will be voted on tomorrow, has been crafted to "satisfy a partisan agenda", she says.

    The centre-left Socialist and Democrats group, which houses the Maltese Labour MEPs, has not joined the motion and has submitted its own rival text.

  14. Portuguese MEP critisies Maltese 'deregulation'

    Debate on rule of law in Malta

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Ana Gomes

    Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes says the issue in Malta goes wider than the current government and is about a "policy of deregulation over many years" that has turned Malta into a tax haven.

    This deregulation has sometimes been promoted by the EU institutions, she adds.

    Centre-right Italian MEP Lara Comi also criticises the passports-for-sale scheme, adding that any country selling citizenship is also "selling its dignity".

  15. MEP criticises 'unacceptable' passports-for-sale scheme

    Debate on rule of law in Malta

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    French Green MEP Eva Joly calls for changes to Malta's tax system, which she says is "undermining European cohesion".

    Austrian social democrat Eugen Freund picks up on Malta's scheme to sell citizenship set up in 2014, which he denounces as "unacceptable".

    Unlike residency programmes or investor visas, Malta's Individual Investor Programme grants full citizenship to successful applicants.

    It costs a minimum of €880,000, split between a non-refundable contribution to the country's development fund and investment in government bonds or five years of home rental.

    Eugen Freund
  16. Centre-left MEPs defend Maltese government

    Debate on rule of law in Malta

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Alfred Sant

    Slovenian social democrat Tanja Fajon, who sits in the same political group as the governing Maltese Labour party, says she does not agree that the rule of law has collapsed in the country.

    The Maltese government needs to get on with the investigation into Ms Galizia's death, but she notes that "many countries" are experiencing problems with corruption and media freedom.

    Alfred Sant, who is from the Maltese Labour party, says the government has been subjected to accusations about corruption based on "jumbled facts" and "unproven allegations".

  17. 'No general concerns' on money laundering in Malta - Timmermans

    Debate on rule of law in Malta

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Frans Timmermans tells MEPs that the European Commission has already condemned the "brutal assassination" of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

    A thorough investigation into her death must be the "top priority" for the Maltese government, he says, adding that the country must "show to the world" that their rules are "robust".

    He says an EU Commission analysis into money laundering in Malta raised "no general concerns" on compliance with EU anti-laundering rules, but that improvements could be made.

    The Commission would also like Malta to join the planned EU body that will be charged with investigating and prosecuting cases of fraud against the bloc’s budget.

    Malta is one of eight EU countries that have decided not to join the new agency, which will be set up in around three years' time.

  18. Good afternoon

    People show the peace sign at the funeral of Daphne Caruana Galizia
    Image caption: Ms Galizia's family barred Malta's leaders from her funeral this month

    Hello and welcome back to this plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    First this afternoon MEPs will be joined by European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans to debate corruption and money laundering in Malta.

    Last month leaders of the Parliament’s political groups agreed that a group of MEPs should visit the country to investigate the situation on the ground.

    It comes after the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was known for her blog accusing top politicians of corruption.

    Tomorrow they are due to vote on a draft motion expressing “serious concerns” about the rule of law, media freedom and the independence of the judiciary in the country.

  19. Votes finish

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

    After this there will be a break before the sitting resumes at 14.00 GMT with a debate on corruption and the rule of law in Malta.

  20. New consumer protection powers approved

    Voting session

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    They also approve a new set of rules aiming to boost co-operation between national authorities investigating cross-border cases of EU consumer law infringement.

    Under the changes, national authorities will be required to issue an alert if they believe a consumer rights infringement might affect other EU countries.

    Co-ordinated investigations will be required if there is a widespread rule breach which affects consumers in several member states.