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Summary

  1. MEPs voted to ratify the EU's trade deal with Singapore
  2. They also gave initial backing to no-deal Brexit plans for hauliers and airlines
  3. Earlier: MEPs debated implementation of UN sustainable development goals
  4. They also debated regional funding in the next long-term EU budget

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye & thanks for joining us

    That's the debate on the new EU-wide standards for screening foreign investments finished - they face a final vote tomorrow.

    Next, MEPs are debating proposals to update EU law governing the exchange of information between automated motorway toll booths.

    However that's where we leave our live text coverage from the European Parliament for this week.

    MEPs' next plenary session will take place in Strasbourg between 11-14 March.

  2. MEP: Rules 'will help states see patterns'

    Debate on EU investment rules

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Christophe Hansen

    Luxembourg centre-right MEP Christophe Hansen says he supports the plans, as it will allow EU states to collectively see "patterns that might escape single member states".

    Investors can "knock on one door after another", he adds.

    Lithuanian MEP Laime Liucija Andrikiene says all EU states should be screening investments from outside the bloc in the telecommunications, transport and media sectors.

  3. EU states will be able to 'collectively assess' investment

    Debate on EU investment rules

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Cecilia Malmstrom

    EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says the Commission has made it a priority to agree the rule changes before the European elections in May.

    The changes will give EU states a "much better overview" of the investments taking place in Europe and allow them to "collectively assess" security risks.

    She notes that "several" member states are now reviewing their investment screening processes, or introducing them for the first time.

  4. What do the new rules mean?

    Debate on EU investment rules

    Under the new plan, national governments will retain the power to review and block investments but existing schemes will have to meet a number of EU-wide standards.

    The European Commission will also gain the right to more information about which investments are being screened, and the right to issue advisory opinions.

    MEPs have reached a deal on the new legislation with national ministers, which will face a final vote tomorrow.

  5. MEPs debate EU rules for investment screening

    MEPs are now debating legislation to set out EU-wide standards for the screening of investments from non-EU countries on the grounds of public security.

    The European Commission announced the proposals in 2017 amid concern over rising investment into Europe from countries such as China.

    The measure aims to encourage EU governments to screen investments in certain sectors – currently only half have legislation in place to do so.

  6. Romanian Minister: We hope INF will be saved

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    George Ciamba

    Romanian European Affairs Minister George Ciamba makes a speech on behalf of the EU's external relations chief Federica Mogherini.

    The EU, he says, is not a signatory to the INF treaty but hopes it will be "saved", he says.

    However he notes that the EU has "serious concerns” about Russia's compliance with the treaty that have "not been addressed so far".

    Russia and the US “need to remain engaged” to ensure implementation of the treaty, he adds.

    "We do not want an arms race," he tells MEPs.

  7. MEPs debate future of INF treaty

    MEPs are now debating Russia’s suspension of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) following a similar decision by the US.

    The US, which has long accused Russia of violating the treaty, formally announced this month that it was suspending its obligations under the agreement.

    Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned the use of short and medium-range missiles by both countries.

  8. No-deal Brexit airline exemptions backed

    Voting session

    Heathrow airport

    MEPs also adopt their position on another piece of no-deal Brexit legislation, this time to ensure "basic connectivity" for airlines for a temporary period after the UK leaves.

    Under the law, flights from the UK into and overflying the EU will be allowed for 12 months.

    MEPs have suggested that the European Commission should be allowed to grant airlines a “temporary exemption” to EU ownership rules under certain circumstances.

    This would include airlines that are effectively controlled by EU states or citizens and have “credible plans” to change their ownership structure in a “shortest possible time”.

    Again, they decide to begin informal negotiations on the law with EU governments.

  9. MEPs back no-deal Brexit haulage exemptions

    Voting session

    Lorries disembarking at the ferry terminal in Calais

    MEPs give their initial backing to legislation to allow hauliers licensed in the UK to carry freight into the EU for a nine-month period in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

    They approve some amendments, including calling for the exemption to cover hauliers that transit through an EU country while travelling between different parts of the UK.

    The exemption would be granted provided the UK provides equivalent rights to EU road hauliers and subject to fair competition rules.

    They decide to enter informal negotiations on the proposal with national ministers, who will also have to approve the law for it to come into effect.

  10. More voting soon

    MEPs are now taking their seats for the second of today's voting sessions.

  11. MEPs debate medicines assessment plan

    Blister packets

    MEPs are now debating legislation which would allow joint clinical assessment of new medical products at EU level.

    Currently EU countries carry out their own relative efficacy assessments as part of the process for price-setting before they are introduced into national health systems.

  12. Commissioner defends record on tax policy

    Debate on fair taxation

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Pierre Moscovici

    Taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici says the EU's current taxation legislation is "lacking", and does not allow the bloc to tackle tax avoidance.

    However, he says the current European Commission has been "leading the battle" to correct this since 2014, with 18 taxation proposals adopted.

    He says this includes new transparency rules for tax advisers and banks, to come in next year, and mandatory sharing of information between tax authorities.

    He adds that the EU needs a "definitive" VAT regime to prevent tax fraud in this area, and plans to "properly" tax digital profits at an EU level.

  13. EU 'cannot sit idle' over tax avoidance - MEP

    Debate on fair taxation

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Jeppe Kofod

    For the S&D group, Danish social democrat Jeppe Kofod says tax avoidance costs EU exchequers €825bn every year.

    He says this "theft from hardworking people" is a problem that poses an "existential threat" to functioning welfare states in Europe.

    He says the problem is particularly acute for large digital companies, which he adds are paying "practically zero" tax on their European business.

    His group supports an international solution to the issue through the OECD, he says, but adds that the EU cannot "sit idle" while a solution has not been found.

    He says they would support "fair" taxation of tech giants at an EU level, an effective minimum corporate taxation rate, and a tax on financial transactions.

  14. Welcome back

    Hello and welcome back to our coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    First this afternoon is a debate on “fair taxation for a just society” – a topical debate proposed by the centre-left S&D group.

  15. Votes end

    That’s the voting session finished.

    MEPs are now making short speeches to explain how they voted.

  16. MEPs back report on Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Voting session

    MEPs approve a report from the foreign affairs committee on the EU accession efforts of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    The report urges the country to better implement European Court of Human Rights rulings.

    A European Commission annual review of the country’s progress published in April last year found little progress had been made during 2017.

    Although economic growth has remained stable, the Commission said there had been limited success in adopting political and judicial reforms.

  17. MEPs ratify EU-Singapore trade deal

    Voting session

    Singapore's central business district seen from the port terminal

    The European Parliament votes to ratify the EU’s trade deal with Singapore, which was signed in 2014 following negotiations that began in 2010.

    The deal will eventually remove almost all tariffs on good trade between the two, and give EU companies better market access in sectors like telecommunications.

    MEPs also vote to ratify proposals for commercial arbitration, which were carved out into a separate agreement after the EU's top court ruled they required national approval.

    This arbitration agreement will now need to be ratified by the EU's member states - but the process will not hold up application of the main treaty.

  18. Votes to begin soon

    That’s the morning’s debates finished.

    MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session.

  19. Spanish MEP in warning over 'sanctions mechanism'

    Debate on regional development funds

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Liliana Rodrigues

    Spanish Socialist Liliana Rodrigues is one of several left-leaning MEPs to pick up on part of the regulation which links regional funds to budget deficits.

    The EU Commission has proposed that it should be able to stop payments to countries that have failed to take "effective action" to stay within the bloc's agreed deficit limits.

    This would turn what is supposed to be an investment tool into a "sanctions mechanism", she says.

    The regional affairs committee has suggested amending the law so that suspensions must be gradual, and take into account the social impact of stopping the payments.