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  1. The opening day of the November plenary session began at 16.00 GMT.
  2. MEPs first debated a motion of no confidence in the newly-installed European Commission, ahead of a vote to be held on Thursday.
  3. This was followed by debates on the UN's post-2015 development strategy and EU spending on infrastructure projects.
  4. After Commission statements on the EU steel industry and legislative impact assessments, the evening session closed with a round of topical speeches.
  5. Please find on-demand video for the no confidence debate below. Video for the afternoon and evening sessions can be found on the BBC Democracy Live website.
  6. Text can be slow to load on these pages. Please hit refresh (F5) if live text does not appear below.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye for now

That's the final topical speech finished, and Parliament Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume duly closes this evening's sitting.

You can join us tomorrow morning from 08.00 GMT for the second day of this plenary session.

Pope Francis's speech to the Parliament is expected to begin at around 10.15 GMT. Goodnight.

'Authoritarian structures'

Slovenian MEP Patricija Šulin uses her speech to warn, 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, that she feels the development of a genuinely democratic system in Slovenia has still not been achieved, with certain "authoritarian structures" still in existence.

Patricija Šulin

Cigarette smuggling

Irish Fine Geal MEP Brian Hayes uses his chance to speak to praise an operation from the European anti-fraud office to combat cigarette smuggling.

One-minute speeches

That's the Commission's statement on impact assessments finished.

MEPs will now close today's session with a round of short speeches.

Under the Parliament's one-minute speech rule, MEPs can make short speeches on any subject that pleases them, if they can get the attention of the acting president.

It's normally the time for members to raise a subject relevant to their country or constituency, or of personal interest to them.

Closing speech

Switching briefly into French to thank the translators of tonight's debate, Frans Timmermans closes the debate in English, saying he is "fully conscious of the fact" that the Commission needs to do a better job in its guidelines for legislative impact assessments.

He also adds that he thinks it is possible to improve the efficiency of the Commission's "impact assessment boards", which also look at the social and environmental impact of EU laws.

On the subject of financial targets, he says that better regulation does not necessarily mean "deregulation, or even less regulation", but in many cases a simplification of existing rules to make them easier for businesses to comply with.

Mr Timmermans

Catch the eye speeches

We'll now have a round of "catch the eye" speeches, after which Frans Timmermans will close this debate on behalf of the Commission.

Problems for SMEs

Slovakian centre-right MEP Ivan Štefanec is the latest in a line of members to make a very similar point: that small and medium sized industries (SMEs) generate a huge number of jobs in Europe but find it hard to comply with EU regulation since they often don't have the resources to do so.

'Concrete targets'

Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre says she welcomes Frans Timmerman's plans to reduce EU regulation, adding that the EU executive needs to do more in this area than it has managed to do in the past.

She says she wants to see "concrete targets" for how the burden of regulation is to be reduced.

Anthea McIntyre

Damaged reputation

During his

pre-confirmation hearing with MEPs, Frans Timmermans said last year's
attempt to regulate olive oil jugs was an example of a policy idea that had damaged the organisation's reputation.

He said that the next Commission should only come up with laws when necessary, in order to win back the "confidence" of people in Europe.

Olive oil

Reducing EU regulation

Liberal MEP Pavel Telicka says he supports Frans Timmermans's plans to reduce EU regulation by between 10-15% as a move to boost economic growth.

He says he would even like to see financial targets to ensure regulatory reforms are more likely to be achieved.

Pavel Telicka

Better laws

The guidelines are meant to help the Commission to come up with better laws, that are based on robust evidence and where groups that might be concerned by them get their chance to have their say in the eventual policy.

Mr Timmermans has been given a new role in the current Commission, with a roving responsibility for ensuring "better regulation" at an EU level.

During his speech to Parliament before the confirmation of the Commission last month, Jean-Claude Juncker said that he wanted his new team to be "bigger and more ambitious on the big things, and smaller and more modest on the small things".

What are impact assessments?

Impact assessments are the tool that the Commission uses to predict what the possible impact of a policy might be, before final legislation is drafted.

Mr Timmermans says he has a "special interest" in involving small and medium-sized businesses in law-making, adding that their growth can be used as a catalyst for economic growth.

Debate ends

Closing the debate, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says the Commission is in a "careful listening mood" for how the legislation in this area can be improved.

She underlines, however, the need to "get regulation right" so that legitimate exporters of safe goods are not unduly hit by regulation in this area.

Next up, the Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans takes the floor to open a debate about the guidelines the Commission provides for impact assessments of ideas for laws.

Frans Timmermans

Catch the eye

That's the end of the scheduled speeches for this debate. MEPs who were not on the list to speak now have the chance to do so, during the five-minute 'catch the eye' procedure.

After that, Ms Malmstrom will respond to the points raised in the debate on behalf of the European Commission.

Wassenaar Arragement

The EU's export control regime emerged in the late 1990s and has been gradually changed over the last decade.

One of the most important accords in the trade of "dual-use" goods is the

Wassenaar Arrangement, which was signed in a town of the same name just outside the Hague in the Netherlands.

It involves 41 different countries, including most EU members.

EU a 'master of hypocrisy'

"Europe is a master of hypocrisy", says Italian MEP Tiziana Beghin from the eurosceptic Five Star movement, claiming that certain EU countries have exported chemical substances to Syria that "probably have been used for the production of chemical weapons".

Tiziana Beghin

Updating regulations

The use of these goods is currently controlled by a

piece of legislation known as the 'Dual Use Regulation'.

In April this year, the Commission said that it was going to update the regulation to bear in mind new technologies and different political circumstances.

Criticism of liberal group leader

UKIP MEP Bill Dartmouth takes a pop at liberal group leader Guy Verhofstdt, whose comments earlier in the chamber that UKIP was a "racist" party caused considerable objections from members of the Eurosceptic group.

He says that the comments show that Mr Verhofstadt is rather "illiberal" and "trades in abuse, rather than debate".

Changing technologies

"Technologies get smaller, faster and cheaper every day," says Dutch liberal MEP Marietje Schaake, who notes that often it is technologies developed inside the EU, rather than in countries like Russia or China, that go on to be used in privacy abuses both within and outside the EU.

Marietje Schaake

'On the sly'

Austrian Socialist MEP Jörg Leichtfried says the main challenge for legislators in this area is the sheer difficulty of establishing rules on dual-use goods, noting that the complexity of the subject and relative lack of media interest has allowed unscrupulous groups to use certain goods to abuse human rights "on the sly".

Jörg Leichtfried

What are dual-use goods?

Examples of things that might be classified as a "dual-use good" are IT intrusion software ('spyware') and telecommunication and internet surveillance equipment.

It could also include items used in the production or development of military goods, such as machine tools, chemical manufacturing equipment and computers.

'Effective and targeted controls'

Speaking on behalf of the Commission, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says she shares the concerns highlighted by MEPs about the use of surveillance technology to spy on EU citizens, but says the export controls on "dual-use" goods have been strengthened over the past decade or so.

However, she calls for "effective and targeted controls" that bear in mind that certain goods are not used for any malevolent purposes, and tells MEPs that experts from "all over the EU" have been drafted in to monitor which products should be restricted.

Cecilia Malmstrom

"Dual-use goods" debate

On behalf of the Parliament's international trade committee, its chairman Bernd Lange - is asking the Commission:

  • What it thinks about restricting the sale of surveillance technology to a restricted list of countries
  • How it intends to differentiate between those technologies that are harmful and those that might actually be used to improve human rights
  • How it intends to oversee the export of these items outside the EU

He says that the exploitation of certain technologies by the governments of "third countries" - that is, countries outside the EU - has led to a situation where people in Europe are being regularly "spied upon".

Bernd Lange

Structural funds debate ends

That's the debate on structural funds finished. The next item of business is another oral question, this time from German Socialist MEP Bernd Lange, about so-called "dual-use goods".

These are goods that are normally used for civilian purposes but which might be used for military applications.

Their export and transit are thus controlled by the EU for security reasons.

Closing comments

Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, regional policy commissioner Corina Cretu says she understands how important cohesion policy spending is to certain countries, particularly poorer countries.

However, she says that the Commission is not solely responsible for finalising projects, which "depends hugely" on the member states.

She says she hopes that around 90% of the projects can be adopted before the end of the year.

Corina Cretu

Catch the eye

Hangarian Socialist Tibor Szanyi closes the scheduled speeches in this debate. We're now onto the 'catch the eye' procedure - MEPs can make a brief contribution if they can get the attention of the acting president.

These short free-for-alls contrast with the regimented bulk of the Parliament's debates, when speakers representing each political grouping take part according to pre-arranged lists.

Budget disagreements

Of course, this debate is taking place in the context of a breakdown in negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers over next year's budget, with MEPs refusing to accept the level of budgets cuts favoured by the member states.

At the start of last week, the two bodies failed to agree on a budget before the end of the so-called "conciliation period", forcing the European Commission to come up with a new proposal.

MEPs are also insisting that outstanding payments from 2014 are settled first, before any agreement on next year's budget can be found.

'Internal solidarity'

Highlighting budget shortfalls for projects that have already been agreed, Portuguese centre-right MEP José Manuel Fernandes says he thinks it is "unacceptable" that cohesion policy is the policy that is "most penalised" when money is short.

He believes this is one EU policy that can be most used to promote "internal solidarity" and economic growth in Europe.

José Manuel Fernandes

Cohesion Policy

During the terms of the last Cohesion Policy, which ran between 2007 and 2013, spending on regional policy amounted to an average of almost €50bn per year, which is more than one third (35.7%) of the total EU budget.

The spending is put through through three funds - often called 'Structural Funds':

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • the European Social Fund (ESF)
  • the Cohesion Fund.

Combating budget cuts

Rosa d'Amato, from Italy's Five Star movement, says that the money that comes from cohesion funds is "even more vital" in certain regions, such as her own in southern Italy, to combat budget cuts being made in countries that have been particularly hard hit by the financial crisis.

Referring to a debate to come later in the week, she asks whether the money in the pot for the next Cohesion Policy will be used in Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's proposed €300bn investment package to boost the struggling EU economy.

Mr Juncker is set to unveil greater details of his plans to MEPs on Wednesday morning.

Rosa d'Amato

Economic goals

The Cohesion Policy has up to €351.8bn to spend on development projects between 2014 and 2020.

It's one of the tools that the European Commission hopes will allow it to achieve various economic goals that have been set for EU member countries to achieve by 2020, such as:

  • 20% of the EU's energy to come from renewables
  • 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion
  • 3% of the EU's GDP to be invested in to research and development.


Eurostat website monitors how well the EU is doing to meet these targets.

Maiden speech

Making his maiden speech in the Parliament, Conservative MEP Andrew Lewer says the debate tonight will allow MEPs to go some way to "examining" the cohesion policies to be put forward.

Although he says he supports some of the projects that have been proposed in the past, he does not necessarily back all of them - and salutes Ms Cretu's reference to the importance of making sure EU taxpayers' money is spent wisely.

Andrew Lewer

'Greater detail' sought

On behalf of the centre-right EPP group, Dutch MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij asks the commissioner to provide the Parliament with "greater detail" on how the cohesion funds should be spent, and asks for a roadmap for how new projects should be agreed.

Lambert van Nistelrooij

39 projects adopted

Regional policy commissioner Corina Cretu replies that 39 cohesion policy projects have been adopted, although she admits that the agreement of the projects included in the current long-term EU budget - or "Multiannual Financial Framework" - has been later than last time.

She adds that she hopes half of the projects will be agreed either by the end of this year or by next March "at the latest".

Corina Cretu

Questions being asked

On behalf of Parliament's regional development committee, Ms. Mihaylova is asking the Commission:

  • what the current situation is on agreeing projects
  • what can be done to speed up agreement on the projects
  • how unpaid bills from the 2007-2013 framework might impact the new agreements .
Iskra Mihaylova

Next item

That's the debate on the post-2015 development frameworks finished. The vote on the report will take place on Tuesday.

The next item on the agenda for today is an oral question from Bulgarian liberal MEP Iskra Mihaylova about delays to agreeing how money from the EU's various development funds should be spent.

The Commission's newly reformed '

Cohesion Policy', which sets aside money for job creation and poverty reduction in EU regions and cities, was meant to begin to be rolled out this year - but the question notes that relatively few projects have been agreed so far.

Closing speech

Closing for the Commission, Development Commissioner Neven Mimica notes that gender equality, migration and human rights were particular issues highlighted by MEPs during the debate as ideas for the development package.

He thanks the Parliament for its contribution to the discussion, noting that the Council of Ministers is due to adopt its position on the framework within the coming weeks.

Neven Mimica

Catch the eye

That's the end of the scheduled speeches for this debate. MEPs who were not on the list to speak now have the chance to do so, during the five-minute 'catch the eye' procedure.

MEPs can make a brief contribution if they can get the attention of the acting President David-Maria Sassoli, who is chairing the debate.

Extreme poor

In 2010, one third of the world's 1.2 billion extreme poor lived in India alone.

China, despite progress in poverty reduction, came second, and was home to about 13% of the global extreme poor.

Nigeria (9%), Bangladesh (5%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5%) came next.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said that although the efforts of national governments have yielded greater "hope and opportunity" for the world's poor, it remains that more needs to be done to accelerate progress".

Women's rights

Croatian centre-right MEP Dubravka Šuica says she welcomes the inclusion in the resolution of a call to promote greater economic equality and respect of fundamental rights for women in developing countries.

As she mentions, tomorrow is the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. MEPs will also be discussing the topic separately during a debate on the subject tomorrow afternoon.

Dubravka Šuica