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Live Reporting

Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight & tomorrow's agenda

    And with that, today's sitting comes to a close.

    MEPs have a packed day tomorrow - the day starts at 08.00 GMT with a debate on a report by an inquiry committee into the Panama Papers tax leaks.

    In the afternoon, they will discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the Rohingya Muslim refugee crisis.

    In the evening they will debate Donald Trump's move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    They will also debate the future of European defence co-operation and an evacuation plan for migrants facing abuse in Libyan detention camps.

  2. Short speeches begin

    Finally this evening, there will be a round of short one-minute speeches from backbench MEPs.

    This item of business, traditionally held on Mondays during full plenary sittings, is normally used by MEPs to make points about topical issues or stories of interest to their country or region.

  3. MEPs debate report on digital trade

    Own initiative reports

    MEPs are now debating a draft policy proposal from the international trade committee about the trade in digital goods.

    This kind of document, called an “own initiative report”, effectively contains policy suggestions for the EU Commission and member states but is not binding on them.

    The draft calls on the European Commission to draw up rules as soon as possible covering data transfers between countries.

    It also says EU trade agreements should contain provisions maintaining the “right of a party to protect personal data and privacy”.

  4. MEPs debate partnership deal with Kazakhstan

    Up next, MEPs are debating a proposed EU partnership agreement with Kazakhstan ahead of a ratification vote tomorrow.

    The agreement, parts of which have been provisionally in force since May last year, will replace a previous deal agreed in 1995.

    The deal is the first “enhanced” agreement the EU has concluded with a Central Asian country, and increases co-operation on trade, energy and education.

    The ex-Soviet republic is a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.

  5. UKIP MEP: Concept of EU citizenship 'flawed'

    Debate on EU citizens' rights report

    European Parliament


    Patrick O'Flynn

    UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn says EU citizenship is based on the "flawed rule" of granting equal service entitlement to people from other nations.

    He says, for example, that there is little public support for automatically granting EU citizens in Britain equal access to national services such as the NHS.

    There is an expectation that people will "pay into the pot for a while first", he adds.

    The idea of EU citizenship ignores the "kinship" that British people have towards each other, he tells MEPs.

  6. UK MEP: Brexit has affected people's identity

    Debate on EU citizens' rights report

    European Parliament


    Jean Lambert

    Petitions committee member and Green MEP Jean Lambert says that the committee has heard from many people whose "sense of identity" has been affected by the Brexit vote.

    MEPs should work out how to "build on that" for remaining EU states, she adds.

    People should have "clear information" about their rights as well as the "right to good administration" to make sure they are upheld, she says.

    Calling EU citizenship an "unfinished task", she calls for EU anti-discrimination laws to be strengthened as well as access to the law to be improved.

  7. MEPs debate report calling for EU bank holiday

    MEPs are now debating an end-of-year report from the petitions committee about EU citizenship that they will vote on tomorrow.

    The draft report calls for negotiations to resume on an EU anti-discrimination directive that has been blocked for almost a decade by national governments.

    One clause in the draft blames austerity measures for aggravating social inequalities and “severely limiting” people’s ability to exercise EU rights.

    It also calls for an EU-wide bank holiday on 9 May – the anniversary of the 1950 Schuman declaration – to boost a “feeling of belonging to the European family”.

  8. MEP hails 'wonderful result' on time limit

    Debate on flight exemptions in carbon trading scheme

    European Parliament


    Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy

    There's also a warm welcome for the deal from Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, who calls the agreement a "wonderful result" that the Parliament had to "fight" for.

    UKIP MEP Julie Reid however says that any additional levies will "will not deter people from flying" and thus may not lower the projected increase in flights.

    She also takes a more general swipe at the ETS scheme, which she says has had a "devastating effect" on heavy industries by making them less internationally competitive.

  9. Labour MEP calls on UK to stay in EU emissions scheme

    Debate on flight exemptions in carbon trading scheme

    European Parliament


    Labour MEP Seb Dance says that time-limiting the flights exemption is an "excellent step".

    Not imposing any time limit would give national negotiators at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) a completely free hand, he argues.

    A time limit will create pressure for an "ambitious" set of international rules, he adds.

    He also calls on the UK government to pledge its continued participation in the ETS after Brexit.

  10. MEP: 'Political pressure' needed on negotiators

    Debate on flight exemptions in carbon trading scheme

    European Parliament


    Julie Girling

    Conservative MEP Julie Girling, who has led negotiations for the European Parliament, says there is a need to reduce the long-term carbon impact of air travel.

    According to one projection these are predicted to be seven to ten times higher in 2050 compared to the levels in 1990, she says.

    By putting a time limit on the exemptions for flights, she says, the EU will be able to maintain "political pressure" on international negotiators, which "appear to be slow".

    It will also provide investors with more certainty about the future, she adds.

  11. MEPs debate flights exemption in carbon trading scheme

    A plane lands at Berlin airport

    MEPs are now debating a planned extension to a measure exempting flights from the EU's emissions trading system (ETS).

    The ETS scheme works by making emitters buy "allowances" authorising them to emit greenhouse gases, within an overall agreed limit.

    Flights to and from the European Economic Area (EEA) have been temporarily excluded whilst international regulators draw up new emissions rules.

    Under a deal agreed in October, this exemption will now apply until 2023 – with a new reduction requirement applying from 2021, pending a review.

    MEPs will hold a final vote on the deal tomorrow.

  12. New fishing boat registration scheme debated

    Fishing boat on the Bosphorus

    MEPs are now debating proposals for a new system for authorising EU vessels to fish in waters beyond member states' jurisdiction.

    The European Commission put forward the new rules two years ago in a bid to improve the monitoring of boats operating outside EU waters.

    Under the new rules, any fishing boat beyond EU waters would be authorised and monitored by the EU state under whose flag it sails.

    All vessels would also be required to have an individual number granted by the International Maritime Organization.

    Tomorrow MEPs will vote to give final approval to an agreement reached with national ministers on the new rules earlier this year.

  13. Reducing or adding complexity?

    Debate on EU farm payments

    Stuart Agnew

    Dutch Conservative Bas Belder says the payment changes should be a "good step forward" in simplifying the rules and reducing "red tape" for farmers.

    He highlights the changes made affecting young farmers, adding that "top up support" will now be available to them over a five-year period.

    UKIP agriculture spokesperson Stuart Agnew says the changes amount to "sneakily" undoing previous reforms that "haven't worked".

    However he questions whether they will only mount to more regulation "reinforcing earlier failure" and adding more complexity to the payments process.

  14. Commissioner gives qualified welcome to changes

    Debate on EU farm payments

    European Parliament


    Corina Cretu

    Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu tells MEPs that the EU Commission has "some misgivings" about the agreed text to be voted on tomorrow.

    In particular, she highlights the "limited" role given to the European Commission and national authorities in safeguarding competition.

    However she says she will be pleased to see many payment schemes simplified.

  15. MEPs debate new farm payments rules

    Tractor in France

    With the agenda approved, MEPs move to their first debate on proposed changes to the financial regulations governing the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP).

    The changes are the first since a major overhaul of the CAP in 2013.

    The changes aim to simplify the payments procedure for young farmers and “greening” schemes which introduce higher payments for sustainable farming.

    The agriculture committee has already endorsed the changes, which will be put to a final vote tomorrow.

  16. Other agenda changes made

    Opening of the sitting

    European Parliament


    A couple of other amendments to the agenda are also approved - on a request from the left-wing GUE group, tomorrow's sitting is extended until midnight Brussels time (11.00 GMT).

    They also agree to reverse the order of the last two debates on Wednesday evening, and agree to postpone a debate on snow crab fishing in Svalbard that was due to take place on Thursday.

  17. Debate on frozen kebab meat added to agenda

    Opening of the sitting

    European Parliament


    Françoise Grossetete

    On behalf of the centre-right EPP group, Françoise Grossetete requests a debate tomorrow afternoon on an EU Commission proposal to authorise phosphate additives in frozen kebab meat.

    MEPs were due to vote tomorrow lunchtime on a motion objecting to the Commission’s proposal, advocating withholding authorisation pending the results of a scientific study due next year.

    The request is approved, and in a separate vote they also approve a request to move the vote on the motion to Wednesday instead.

  18. Good afternoon

    Hello and welcome to coverage of today’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The sitting will be getting underway shortly, when MEPs will hear administrative announcements and approve the agenda.

    Proposals to add debates have to be made to the President at least one hour before the sitting opens.

    They can be tabled by one of the Parliament’s committees, one of its political groups, or a group of 40 MEPs – it must then be approved by a simple majority.