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Summary

  1. Live streaming for this event has now finished.
  2. Wednesday's first day of the mini-plenary session from Brussels began at 14.00 GMT.
  3. The first item on the agenda was a debate on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  4. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made a statement to the Parliament on tax avoidance in the EU.
  5. After that, MEPs elected a new vice-president of the Parliament.
  6. MEPs also held a debate the issue of tax avoidance in the EU with the economic affairs commissioner, following revelations last week about the tax situation in Luxembourg.
  7. In the evening, MEPs discussed EU spending in the 2013 financial year.
  8. The evening also saw foreign affairs debates on the peace process in Northern Ireland, relations between Turkey and Cyprus and the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

Slovakian centre-right MEP Anna Zaborska makes the final speech of tonight's extended session, which takes the parliamentarians into Thursday in Brussels (CET) time.

That's today's session finished, the session will resume at 08.00 GMT tomorrow morning. You can join me to follow the action on BBC Democracy Live.

Croatian scheme

Croatian Socialist Biljana Borzan draws the Parliament's's attention to a scheme in Croatia which is currently aiming to increase the representation of women in politics.

Biljana Borzan
BBC

Reflections on communism

Polish Conservative Zdzisław Krasnodebski says the fall of the Berlin Wall, debated by the Parliament earlier today, provides an opportunity to reflect on communist ideology, which he calls an "absurd system that only serves to make people poor".

Zdzisław Krasnodebski
BBC

Chamber speeches

The one-minute speech rule allows MEPs to flag up a subject of personal interest to them, or to draw the attention of fellow members to something occurring in their own country.

Water charge protests

Irish independent MEP Luke Ming Flanagan uses his opportunity to speak to draw attention to

recent protests in Ireland against the introduction of water charges.

The controversial austerity measure is a key part of the government's plan to pay back the international financial bailout the state had to seek in 2010.

Luke Ming Flanagan
BBC

Tomorrow's session

Tomorrow's session will begin at 08.00 GMT. The highlight of the session will be the debate and vote on whether to approve an EU free trade deal with Moldova.

You can follow proceedings in the chamber on BBC Democracy Live.

One-minute speeches

That's the joint debate on the EEA Agreement finished.

MEPs now have the opportunity to make short one-minutes speeches on topical subjects that take their fancy. This will be the final item of business of this evening's session.

Closing remarks

Closing this deabte on behalf of the Commission, Marianne Thyssen rejects claims made by some MEPs that the amendment would add rights to non-EU nationals in the four countries affected.

She finishes by saying members can rely on the two programmes to "make headway" under the new Commission.

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Too much too soon?

French Front National MEP Marie-Christine Arnautu says she worries that it is too soon to extend access to the employment and social innovation ("EaSI") programme to non-EU countries that are in the free trade area, particularly given

a ruling from the European Court of Justice yesterday that supported Germany's attempts to restrict unemployed migrants' rights to welfare.

Marie-Christine Arnautu
BBC

A 'third country'?

Spanish Socialist Sergio Gutitierrez Prieto employs a frequently-used bit of EU jargon - a "third country", which is a term used to refer to any country outside the EU.

Sergio Gutitierrez Prieto
BBC

Parliament's role?

British Conservative Anthea McIntyre MEP questions why the Parliament is discussing this amendment at all, adding that it has already been agreed by the EU Council of Ministers, and is "uncontroversial and highly technical".

She finishes by adding that the Parliament might take some lessons from the intentions of Jean-Claude Juncker for "better regulation" from the Commission and a more efficient legislative programme.

Anthea McIntyre
BBC

Swiss amendment

Following an amendment earlier today, the amendments will now also include Switzerland in the areas relevant to social security.

Although Switzerland is neither an EU or EEA member, it is part of the single market - this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK, for example, as other EEA nationals.

Greater co-operation

The amendment would allow these countries a greater degree of co-operation in certain areas not in the "four freedoms" of the EU - specifically to an EU programme for employment and social innovation, known as "Easi", and European Progress Microfinance Facility, which aims to promote employment and social inclusion.

What is the EEA Agreement?

The EEA Agreement, which entered into force at the start of 1994, brings together the EU member states and the three states which are not in the EU but part of the European Free Trade Agreement: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — in a single market, referred to as the "Internal Market".

Next item

Commissioner Johannes Hahn closes the debate by calling for a "political solution to the crisis" in the country.

He says the EU must use "all its means and channels" to find a solution to conflict, calling the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan a "man-made crisis".

The motions on a resolution will be voted on tomorrow.

The next item on the agenda is a debate about amending protocol number 31 in the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement.

Catching the eye

MEPs will now have an opportunity to make unscheduled interventions by gaining the attention of the acting president during the "catch the eye" procedure.

Talks break down

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar held two days of talks in Addis Ababa last week in a mediation effort brokered by Igad (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development), which groups eight East African states, but the ceasefire that was part of the accord has now broken down.

Disruption of oil production

Austrian Socialist Josef Weidenholzer says he regrets that, three years after South Sudan became independent, it is still not in a position to "exploit its resources under the rule of law".

Long based on subsistence agriculture, South Sudan's economy is now highly oil-dependent. The recent fighting has severely disrupted South Sudan's oil production, and aid agencies have warned the the poor East African state could be hit by a famine next year.

Josef Weidenholzer
BBC

'Crimes against humanity'

Italian MEP Ignazio Corrao says attacks based upon ethnic lines in South Sudan are "crimes against humanity".

Ignazio Corrao
BBC

Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in December 2013. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar.

The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension, since the politicians' political bases are often ethnic. Kiir is from the dominant Dinka tribe, while Machar is a Nuer.

Young country

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 after a 2005 peace deal ended Africa's longest-running civil war.

An overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in a January 2011 referendum to secede. It is Africa's first new country since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.

Humanitarian situation

The latest violence broke out in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, where rebels allege that oil fields had been targeted.

The fighting has displaced some 1.5 million people and more than seven million are at risk of hunger and disease, according to the United Nations (UN).

South Sudan conflict

South Sudan is currently in the throes of violent conflict between the government and rebel forces.

The two sides clashed again earlier this week in three states, just days after their leaders agreed to unconditionally end fighting.

South Sudan debate begins

Enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn closes this debate by promising to convey the messages of MEPs to the Turkish authorities in future negotiations with the government of Cyprus.

Johannes Hahn
BBC

However, he's soon on his feet again, this time making a statement on behalf of EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini to open the next debate, which is on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

'Catch the eye'

French socialist Vincent Peillon is the last MEP scheduled to speak during this debate.

Vincent Peillon
BBC

Now, we'll have five minutes of the "catch the eye" procedure, which allows MEPs who were not on the list to speak to make short interventions.

'Positive agenda'

The EU and Turkey launched a "positive agenda"

in May 2012 to try and get accession negotiations back on the road. The agenda highlighted areas where they could expand co-operation.

But progress stalled, however, when Cyprus took up the EU's six-month rotating presidency in July 2012, as Turkey refused to talk to the Cypriot authorities.

'New wall'

Cypriot socialist MEP Costas Mavrides, making reference to today's earlier debate on the fall of the Berlin Wall, repeats a metaphor which has been used a number of times today by saying the actions of the Turkish military are "constructing a new wall" in Europe.

Costas Mavrides
BBC

Post-bailout developments

Cyprus has become particularly keen to develop offshore gas reserves as a potential source of money since it

had to ask for an international financial bailout in 2013.

In the chair

Chairing this debate is German MEP and Parliament vice-president Rainer Weiland.

Rainer Weiland
BBC

Turkey - EU negotiations

Turkey applied for full membership of the EU in 1987, although it wasn't until 1999 that it was officially confirmed as a candidate country - and not until 2005 that negotiations on membership actually started, after it met the last condition to get talks started by extending a customs union it had with the EU to all new member states, including Cyprus.

However, it failed to ratify the customs union and its ports and airports remain closed to Cypriot traffic. The EU responded, in December 2006, by freezing accession talks in eight policy areas.

Turkish flag
BBC

Energy incentive

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock says that energy reserves in the region, far from acting as a barrier to resolving disputes between Turkey and Cyprus, could act as an "incentive" in negotiations, which were broken off after the Turkish research vessel was discovered.

Charles Tannock
BBC

Cyprus-Turkey background

At a summit in Brussels a few weeks ago, EU leaders

called on Turkey to respect Cyprus' sovereignty over its territorial sea and Cyprus' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone.

Commissioner comments

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn seeks to assure MEPs that the recent deterioration in Turkey- Cyprus negotiations "high on the agenda of the Commission".

The floor is now open to MEPs to make short speeches.

Cyprus and Turkey

The debate follows complaints from the Cypriot government last month that a Turkish research vessel had encroached on an area it off its southern coast, where it is currently conducting operations to search for gas.

Greek Cypriots who run the EU-recognised government said this was a "clear violation" of its sovereign rights, since it has already licensed part of the waters to international drilling companies.

Cyprus claims certain waters belong to it under international law, and constitute part of its "exclusive economic zone".

End of the Northern Ireland debate

The vote on the Northern Ireland resolution will take place tomorrow lunchtime.

MEPs will now welcome the EU's enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is going to be opening a debate on recent tensions between Cyprus and Turkey.

Commissioner responds

Regional policy commissioner Corina Cretu closes this debate on Northern Ireland by saying that is "still painful" to see division amongst people in Belfast whilst they have also been celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, and again highlights EU-funded reconciliation policies as a route to making advances in the peace process.

Corina Cretu
BBC

What is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

You can read more about Northern Ireland's long and frequently interrupted journey to its current devolved assembly on

the BBC Democracy Live website.

Northern Ireland background

Last Sunday, the Northern Ireland secretary in the UK government, Theresa Villiers, said that talks would be "intensified" this week, although she noted that the process of finding agreement on a number of contentious issues would be a "hugely difficult task".

Theresa Villiers
BBC

Haass talks

Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada mentions the Haass talks, which

ended without agreement at the end of last year.

Chaired by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass, the talks aimed to resolve some of the most contentious issues in the peace process in Northern Ireland, such as how to investigate the deaths of people who died during the Troubles, and use of flags.

Liadh Ni Riada
BBC

Never forget

Spanish socialist Ramón Jauregui Atondo says the conflict in Northern Ireland has left "great wounds that are not completely healed"

He underlines that the desire to move forward in peace process should not lead to people "forgetting what happened", which would be a great disservice to the victims of the conflict.

Ramón Jauregui Atondo
BBC

Better handled within the UK?

"We may have some form of peace, but where is the prosperity?", asks UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall, who points out that Northern Ireland has the highest level of unemployment in the UK and high levels of social deprivation.

He says that the money spent by the EU would have been better spent in Northern Ireland by the UK government, a comment which attracts criticism from German MEP Elmar Brok, who intervenes using the blue card procedure to claim that Mr Nuttall is jumping on a recent story about EU misspending to make an "internal political point" in the UK.

Paul Nuttall
BBC