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Summary

  1. Click the 'Key Video' tab for video of Pope Francis's address to MEPs. Video for the rest of the day's proceedings can be found on the Democracy Live website.
  2. The second day of the November plenary session began at 08.00 GMT.
  3. Pope Francis addressed the Parliament at 10.15 GMT, following debates on EU budget contributions and employment targets for 2020.
  4. It was only the second time that a Pope has addressed MEPs, following John Paul II's speech in 1988.
  5. After the lunchtime voting session, there were debates on combating violence against women, EU migration in the Mediterranean and migrant expulsions in Spain.
  6. The evening session saw debates on EU employment equality legislation and extending the powers of the European Central Bank.
  7. 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

End of business

Closing the debate tonight, Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne urges members to back the Parliament's proposals tomorrow to call for increased transparency in the bank regulation changes. The vote on the reports will take place tomorrow.

That's all from tonight's sitting. Tomorrow's session will begin at 08.00 GMT, when Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will unveil details of his 300bn euro investment package to MEPs.

Protecting information

Although backing the changes in the ECB's powers, Mr Gualtieri's report recommends that the new powers need to be balanced by "a requirement of the receiving authorities to take all necessary regulatory, administrative, technical and organisational measures" to ensure that the information is properly protected.

European Central Bank background

Earlier this month, the ECB became solely responsible for monitoring the health of the eurozone's biggest banks, under plans introduced in the wake of the financial crisis.

This is known as the "Single Supervisory Mechanism", or SSM.

The reforms, a key part of the EU's proposed banking union, aim to introduce more uniform regulation of banks across the eurozone, so that the health of large banks is better monitored.

According to a progress report published by the ECB, around 900 staff have already been recruited into the teams charged with monitoring banking activity.

Welcome proposals

Cypriot Socialist Costas Mavrides says he welcomes some key points in the Parliament's text that adds to the ECB proposals: a provision that there should be no discrimination against member states in the application of the rules, and that fines against banks start to rack up when infringement proceedings begin against them, rather than at the moment the decision is made legal.

He says his group is concerned, however, by an amendment proposed by the centre-right EPP group that the publication of ECB sanctioning could be delayed until "all legal means have been resolved" - as he believes this might undermine transparency.

Votes on whether to endorse the reports - and their amendments - will take place tomorrow.

Commission backing

Lord Hill says the changes in the law being proposed by the ECB have the full political endorsement of the Commission, adding that they will give the central bank "means to enforce EU law" in its new role.

He says that the Commission legal services team has identified two inconsistencies between the ECB's proposals and the report that has been prepared by the Parliament, but that he hopes these can be resolved "in a sensible way".

Lord Hill
BBC

Background on reports

The first report, compiled by British Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne on behalf of the economic affairs committee, is about updating the laws that govern the ECB to impose sanctions on national central banks that fail to comply with its decisions and rulings.

The second report, compiled by Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri, who chairs the Parliament's economic affairs committee, is endorsing changes that would let the ECB collect confidential statistical information in order to monitor the health of Eurozone banks.

Roberto Gualtieri
BBC

European Central Bank debate

That's the statement on the recent bank stress tests finished.

We now move on to the final item on tonight's agenda - debates on two reports about proposed laws being drawn up by the Council of Ministers to change the role and powers of the European Central Bank (ECB), after it took on new powers this month to formally monitor the health of Eurozone banks.

Although the Parliament doesn't have the right to formally amend the legislation, it must be consulted on it.

'No trust' in banking system

German Conservative Bernd Lucke says that, despite the stress test, "we have no trust in the European banking system today".

Affected banks

Ten of the banks have taken measures to bolster their balance sheets since the tests were carried out. The remaining 14 includes four Italian banks, two Greek banks, two Belgian banks and two Slovenian banks.

The worst affected was Italian bank Monte dei Paschi, which had a capital shortfall of €2.1bn.

Banking test

The EBA said that 24 European banks had

failed the tests, which were based on a review of financial institutions' health at the end of last year.

Lord Hill's maiden speech

Making his maiden speech in the Parliament chamber, the financial services commissioner Lord Hill - the UK's member of the Commission - tells MEPs that the tests were "most severe anywhere in the world" - but that they were worth it because the tests gave European banks "international credibility".

He continues that the recent transfer of powers to the ECB, which saw it become solely responsible for monitoring the health of eurozone banks last month - will hopefully allow the EU to "turn the page" on the financial crisis.

Lord Hill
BBC

Commissioner's response

Employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen closes the debate on employment equality legislation by reiterating her calls to make more data available to lawmakers.

She says the regulations do not currently force member states to collect such data, so for the moment this information must be found elsewhere.

Next, MEPs are going to hear a statement from the European Commission about the

recent stress tests of European banks conducted by the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

'Kafkaesque' debate

Labour MEP Siôn Simon lashes out at the whole premise of tonight's debate, saying it is almost "Kafkaesque" they they should be debating such an old piece of racial equality legislation whilst employees of the EU institutions and its civil service are "almost entirely" white.

He says that his attempts to get the Commission to reveal how many of its employees come from ethnic minorities have been repeatedly refused.

Improving awareness

Although she acknowledges the directives were "ground-breaking piece of legislation" at the time of their introduction, Green MEP Jean Lamberts highlights the low number of people that are aware of their rights under the laws as an area that could be improved, so that a higher number of discrimination cases are reported.

A special

Eurobarometer survey in November 2012 found that only 37% of respondents said they were aware of their anti-discrimination rights under EU law.

Jean Lamberts
BBC

Roma discrimination

Spanish centre-right MEP Verónica Lope Fontagne highlights the case of Roma workers, whom she says are particular victims of workplace discrimination in certain countries.

At the end of last month, the Commission initiated so-called "infringement proceedings"

against the Czech Republic for failing to apply the Racial Equality Directive with its Roma population.

It follows a landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2007 that said the country was breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by sending a disproportionate number of Roma children to special schools for children with learning disabilities.

The Commission effectively considers this to be a form of racial discrimination, since it can be shown to have an adverse effect on the life and employment opportunities of Roma children.

Schoolchildren
Jiri Dolezel

Proper implementation

Staying in the chamber, employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen, representing the commission, says that both directives "must be properly implemented" in all member states, and that she stands ready to use "all means", including infringement proceedings, to make sure that they are.

She refers to a

report produced by the Commission at the start of this year found that, although all EU member states had implemented the legislation, there were still a number of "challenges" in applying it in a number of countries.

What do they do?

Both of these pieces of legislation were adopted in the year 2000, and "transposed" (i.e. converted) into national laws in the member states between 2003-2007.

The first prohibits discrimination at work on the grounds of religion, age, disability or sexual orientation - and the second prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race.

Oral question

That's the debate on workplace safety finished. We now pass on to another oral question, again from Swedish Socialist MEP Marita Ulvskog, about how well member states have been implementing two pieces of EU legislation: the

Racial Equality Directive and the
Employment Equality Directive.

Commissioner's response

Employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen, closing for the Commission, reiterates the Commission's commitment to improving health and safety legislation, adding that 24 EU directives are currently being assessed to see how they might lead to an "improved situation on the ground".

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Increased stress

The survey also found that people working in the EU think stress is the main risk they face at work - with 53% of respondents giving this as their answer.

People in Sweden were the most likely to say they were stressed (67%), whilst only 34% of employees in Estonia mentioned this.

Over a quarter of people in the EU said that they had experienced "bone or muscle problems" that had been caused or worsened at work.

Eurobarometer survey

According to a

Eurobarometer survey carried out earlier this year, satisfaction with health and safety conditions at work is highest in Austria, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium - where 92% of respondents said they were satisfied.

The bottom of the class was Greece, with satisfaction rates down at 53%.

'It's blarney'

"It's blarney", says Labour MEP Siôn Simon, asking where the concrete proposals are in the Commission's strategic framework to address issues like asbestos.

"It's not strategic, and not a framework", he concludes.

Siôn Simon
BBC

Simpler and cheaper regulation

Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre says the priority for the EU should be to ensure simpler and cheaper health regulation for small and medium-sized businesses, so that they are not burdened by the costs of following the rules.

'Strategic Framework'

Employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen refers to the Commission's '

Strategic Framework' on workplace safety for the period 2014-2020, which was adopted last June.

The Commission proposed, amongst other things, that:

  • Small businesses should be given "practical support" to help them comply with health and safety rules
  • Health and safety legislation is simplified across the EU
  • New rules are established to deal with new risks in certain workplaces, like nanomaterials and biotechnologies

She says it also acknowledges the need for a database on workplace safety statistics.

Question demands

Ms. Ulvskog's

oral question includes a number of suggestions for the Commission in this area proposed by the committee, including:

  • Helping to produce "user-friendly guides" for small businesses to help them understand how to conform to safety rules
  • Collecting more information about road accidents that occur to and from places of work
  • Setting up an EU-wide monitoring programme of workplace hazards

Health and safety debate begins

That's the debate on so-called "hot returns" in Spain finished.

The next item on today's agenda is a debate on health and safety at work, to follow an oral question being posed by Swedish Socialist MEP Marita Ulvskog, on behalf of the employment and social affairs committee.

Marita Ulvskog
BBC

It follows the publication this June of a so-called '

Strategic Framework' on workplace safety by the European Commission for the period 2014-2020.

Catch the eye

With the scheduled speakers finished, we're now onto the "catch-the-eye" procedure.

Mapping migration

You can read a BBC guide to Mediterranean migration

here.

Migration
BBC

Vice-presidential intervention

French Socialist MEP Sylvie Guillaume is also one of the Parliament's 14 vice-presidents, meaning she sometimes chairs debates in the chamber.

Sylvie Guillaume
BBC

Migrant magnets

Together with a second Spanish enclave, Melilla, Ceuta represents the EU's only land border with Africa.

As a result the territories, both located along Morocco's Mediterranean coast, have become a magnet for migrants seeking work or asylum in Europe.

Concern over law changes

Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos thanks the Parliament for the chance to discuss this issue, and adds that he will be visiting the areas concerned "within the coming months".

He says that any EU border measure must respect the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and respect human dignity, and says the Commission is "concerned" by Spain's recent law changes and its interpretation of its external border, and that an investigation began under the previous Commission must be allowed to continue.

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

Migration to hell?

"It is hypocritical for you to praise the words of the Pope on migration" says Spanish Left MEP Marina Albiol Guzman, adding that she believes the Parliament has passed laws to worsen the problem.

"I don't know", she concludes, "maybe you'll all go to hell".

Marina Albiol Guzman
BBC

What does the question ask?

The question has been tabled by five of the Parliament's political groups. It asks:

  • whether the Commission thinks the Spanish government has been acting in compliance with EU law
  • what it intends to do to prevent "abuses" happening again in the future
  • whether it thinks the actions of the Spanish government have been consistent with "European values".

Court referral sought

Swedish liberal Cecilia Wikstrom says she thinks the proposed law changes in Spain are in contravention of EU law, and asks for changes to be referred to the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, to examine whether it is legal.

Why has the question been tabled?

The MEPs tabling the question say they think the planned changes might lead to the "indiscriminate summary and collective expulsion of migrants", and could run contrary to human rights law.

'Hot return' is an expression for the expulsion of people from a country without certain legal procedures having been carried out.

Moving on...

With Italian MP Sandro Gozi having closed this debate on behalf of the Council, we move on to the next item on the agenda.

This is another oral question being put to the Commission, this time about planned changes to Spanish law which some MEPs say would allow the country to expel clandestine migrants caught entering its cities of Ceuta and Melilla in north Africa without proper legal safeguards.

'Charter for migrants'

Replying on behalf of the Commission, Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos recalls his time as mayor in Athens, when he remembers the huge numbers of people trying to enter Europe via the Mediterranean "in search of better life".

He adds, however, that it is possible for Europe to point to some achievements in this area, and calls for there support in favour of drawing up a new "charter for migrants".

"We cannot simply pull up the drawbridge," he concludes, adding that there must be "values that inform the decisions we make".

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

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.

'Not the answer'

Another Italian MEP speaking in this debate, Giovanni la Via, says he thinks that Triton is "not the answer" to the problem of migrant deaths off his country's coast.

Instead, he says he want to see greater investment in north African countries. In a familiar theme in the this debate, he also claims his policies would echo the Pope's desire to "underscore the value of human dignity".

Search and rescue

"Neither at national level, nor at EU level, have we found solutions," says Italian centre-right MEP Elisabetta Gardini, in reference to the Triton search-and-rescue operation to rescue stranded migrants, which has just been rolled out near the Italian coast.

Elisabetta Gardini
BBC

The operation has a smaller budget than "Mare Nostrum", the operation set up after the Lampedusa crisis last year that it is replacing.

The new operation's smaller budget has

led to criticism from some human rights groups, who consider that it will result in more migrant deaths at sea.