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  1. The sitting began at 08.00 GMT with a debate on Latvia's six-month presidency of the Council of Ministers, with Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (hit 'Key Video').
  2. After lunch, MEPs were joined by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini to debate the bloc's common defence and security policies, recent terror attacks in Nigeria, and the situation in Ukraine.
  3. This was followed by a debate on the European Year of Development, a scheme designed to promote the EU's work with developing countries.
  4. After that, there was a further foreign affairs debate about the situation in Egypt.
  5. The day's business closed with a statement on the case of Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, two Italian marines accused of having killed two Indian fishermen in 2012.
  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

End of Business

Federica Mogherini - who has been representing the Commission in several debates throughout the afternoon and the evening - brings the debate to a close by pointing out that the debate has shown the issue of the two marines is not a "purely Italian matter".

She adds that the decisions relating to the legal aspects of the case will remain with the Italian government, to whom he pledges to speak.

And with that, the evening session comes to a close. MEPs will reconvene at 08.00 GMT tomorrow morning for the final day of this month's session, when they will hold a series of human rights debates and vote on resolutions.

'Protecting Europe'

Centre-right Italian MEP Salvatore Cicu says that, in the three years since the marines have been detained in India, it is only now that MEPs have put forward a resolution on the subject.

He adds that at a "time of fear and lack of security", they should acknowledge the "difficult situation" of the two soldiers, who he says were only fighting to preserve not only the security of Italy, but also of "the whole of Europe".

Salvatore Cicu

Travel appeals

Last month, India's Supreme Court

rejected travel appeals for the two marines to travel home for Christmas.

It follows a similar situation last year, when Delhi and Rome were involved in a bitter diplomatic row after Italy refused to send the marines back after they had been allowed to go home to vote in the February 2013 elections.

The marines did eventually return to Delhi, a month later.

Trial needed

Another Italian MEP - Ignazio Corrao from the Five Star movement - says the EU is not there to "stick up for one party or another" in the case, but adds that it cannot be allowed for the marines to go on being held any longer without being brought to trial.

"They have to feel that Europe is backing them here", he concludes, and calls for greater negotiations to force a trial, which he says is vital to uphold the "rule of law".

Trying to protect

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic tells the chamber that the marines "thought they were doing something to protect" the vessels they were travelling on.

He adds the lack of a proper protocol for trying them means they should demand in their resolution - to be voted on tomorrow - for the marines to be repatriated to Italy or tried in an international court.

Ivan Jakovcic

Background on killings

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre are on bail in India, pending trail, in connection with the incident.

The marines were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire, killing two men off the Kerala coast. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

The Italian government has always insisted that the shooting had taken place in international waters, and thus that the men should be tried in Italy.


End of Egypt debate

Federica Mogherini concludes this debate on Egypt by asking for a more circumspect appraisal of the Arab Spring, noting that large-scale political transitions in Europe have also been "painful" and "difficult" throughout history.

The adds that she is looking for a meeting with the Egyptian authorities in the near future to further the EU's political engagement with the country.

That's the debate on the situation in Egypt finished.

MEPs now move to the final item on this evening's agenda, which is about a case involving two Italian marines accused of having killed two Indian fishermen in 2012.

'Islamist winter'

Bulgarian Conservative Angel Dzhambazki says that "the Arab Spring has become an Islamist winter", and suggests that the growth of religious fundamentalism in the region poses a growing security threat to Europe.

Angel Dzhambazki

Egypt background

Egypt has been ruled by retired Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since his election in May last year.

His predecessor, Mohammad Morsi, had been deposed less than a year earlier, in July 2013, following a military operation backed by many Egyptians but fronted by Sisi himself.

Mr Morsi became the country's first elected president in 2012, when he won elections as the candidate for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

However, Mr Morsi's rule sparked dismay among many Egyptians - primarily secularists, liberals and Coptic Christians - which boiled over in another wave of protests.

'Deliberately critical'

Labour MEP Richard Howitt tells the chamber that tomorrow's resolution on Egypt has been drawn up to be "deliberately critical" of the governing regime in the country.

He tells the chamber that over 1,000 opponents of the Sisi government have been detained since he came to power.

Richard Howitt

European Neighbourhood Policy

The EU's relations with Egypt - along with a number of other northern African countries bordering the Mediterranean - are governed by the bloc's

European Neighbourhood Policy.

It commits the EU to promoting stability at Europe's borders, as well as democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The document also says the EU wants to "engage in a dialogue" over Egypt's continued use of the death penalty for certain crimes.

Country in 'transition'

Ms Mogherini tells MEPs that, whilst the country is "still in transition", Egypt must still take steps to make economic reforms, and the Commission will continue its support to help in this area.

Nevertheless, she says that the country must take steps to improve its human rights situation, including the "lack of space for dissenting opinion".

End of Debate

That's the debate on the European Year of Development finished.

After a short break, MEPs will stage another debate, again with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, on the situation in Egypt.

Parliament will vote on a resolution on the matter tomorrow.

There remain fears of a return to authoritarian rule in the country under the leadership of retired Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after his election in May last year.

Development report

The UN's

report on progress towards achieving its current set of development goals noted that:

  • The number of people living in "extreme poverty" has come down by 700 million since 1990
  • Over 2.3 billion people gained access to an improved source of drinking water between 1990 and 2012
  • Efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995.

However, the report also noted that more needs to be done if targets are to be reached for reducing child mortality, maternal mortality and greenhouse gases.

What are European 'Years'?

2015 is will mark the first time that a so-called "European Year" will be designated to a global theme.

Since 1983, the EU has been attaching themes to different years to promote its work in certain areas.

The first was dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the craft industry.

Development goals

Labour MEP Linda McAvan - who chairs Parliament's development committee - tells MEPs that the UN's development goals have left a legacy of improving development - even if not all of them have been achieved - and that this needs to be built on in the next set of goals.

She adds that another upcoming event this year - a climate change summit in Paris - will also provide a vital opportunity to help people in developing countries, since climate change often affects people in the poorest countries the most.

Linda McAvan

European Year of Development

That's the debate on Ukraine finished.

MEPs are now going to debate the European Year of Development, a scheme is designed to increase co-operation between EU countries and poorer developing countries.

This year, the UN's current development goals - which were set in 2000 - are due to come to an end.

A new set of global development goals, which will set UN-wide development ambitions for the next 15 years, is to be decided in September in New York.

EU position on Russia

Ms Mogherini wraps up this long debate on Ukraine by echoing calls from some MEPs for unity in the positions of the EU institutions with regard to Ukraine, and tells the chamber that achieving this has taken up the "majority" of her time since she took office two months ago.

Responding to comments made by some of the MEPs, she reiterates that any peaceful resolution in the region must emphasise the "restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity", and says there can be "no change of borders with force".

She adds it is "clear" that the EU will never accept such a policy from Russia.

She reiterates her earlier calls to keep channels of communication open with Russia, telling MEPs that it will not undermine their attempts to take a tough stance with the country.

"Even to be hard, you need to talk", she concludes.

Federica Mogherini

Ukraine bus attack

Italian Socialist Goffredo Maria Bettini says

yesterday's attack on a bus in eastern Ukraine - the latest act of violence in the region, which left at least 12 people dead - is "yet another infringement" of the Minsk ceasefire agreement, agreed between Ukrainian government representatives and pro-Russia rebels last September.

Donetsk regional officials have blamed pro-Russian rebels for yesterday's attack, though it has been reported that rebel leaders had denied involvement.

No interventions

Irish MEP and Parliament vice-president Mairead McGuinness - who is chairing this debate this evening - reminds the chamber that, due to the fact that proceedings are overrunning, she will not be admitting any "blue card" interventions.

The blue card procedure gives an MEP 30 seconds to ask a question of another MEP about a point they made in their speech.

An MEP can be interrupted by more than one blue-card holder, if the President chooses to allow it.

MEPs can make more than one blue-card request during a debate, but only if allowed by the President.

Mairead McGuinness

Returning Crimea

Lithuanian centre-right MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis says any negotiations in the Ukraine peace process must insist upon the return of Crimea to the country, adding that he feels there was "no justification" for the region's annexation by Russia last year.

Support needed

Czech liberal Pavel Telicka highlights the need for economic assistance in Ukraine, telling the chamber that "we dealing with an administration that needs considerable support".

Pavel Telicka

'Poking the Russian bear'

British Conservative David Campbell Bannerman says that whilst he is no supporter of Vladimir Putin's Russia, he believes the EU has been guilty of "poking the Russian bear" in its desire to expand its geopolitical influence eastward, particularly with a "nakedly political" free trade deal with Ukraine that contained provisions for military as well as economic co-operation.

The deal was

ratified by the Parliament at its plenary session last September.

However, in order to address "concerns addressed by Russia", it was decided before the ratification that the key provisions of the agreement would be delayed, so that they will not now be implemented until December next year at the earliest.

Resolving issues

German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok - who chairs the Parliament's foreign affairs committee - tells MEPs that tomorrow's resolution, which Parliament will vote on at lunchtime, insists that "all channels" of communication should remain open with Russia as a way to resolving the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Elmar Brok

Eastern Ukraine background

Despite a ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk between Ukrainian government representatives and pro-Russia rebels, violence has continued in eastern Ukraine between the two sides ever since the region was annexed by Russia in March last year.

Pro-Russian gunmen seized key buildings in the Crimean capital, Simferopol at the end of February.

Within days, the region's parliament voted to join Russia and called a referendum - at which 97% of voters reportedly backed the proposal.

That figure was later disputed, with leaked documents showing only 50-60% support for the move.

Ukraine assistance

As Ms Mogherini says, last week the Commission approved a further package of medium-term loans worth €1.8bn for Ukraine, to provide financial assistance to the heavily-indebted country.

She calls for a "more proactive, and less reactive" approach to the situation with Russia, and adds that achieving this will be on the agenda at next Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Ukraine statement

That's the debate on Nigeria finished.

Ms Mogherini will remain in the chamber, however, to make another foreign affairs statement - this time on the situation in Ukraine.

EU respond with 'strength'

Stressing the interrelated nature between last week's attacks in the Paris and Nigeria, Ms Mogherini closes the debate by saying the EU's foreign policy service must respond with the "same strength and coherence" to world events, whether they occur "in Paris or Nigeria".

Federica Mogherini

Peace brokering 'doomed to fail'

UKIP MEP James Carver lambasts the EU's efforts to broker peace in Nigeria, and predicts that they will be doomed to fail.

Instead, he says the crisis in the country should be tackled by promoting co-operation between countries in the region, and adds that the Commonwealth is a "far better suited" international organisation to help in the area, since Europe has too many problems of its own to prove an effective influence.

James Carver

Boko Haram's attacks

North-eastern Nigeria has been the focal point of a military offensive by Boko Haram - an Islamist insurgent group - since 2009.

The group, initially concerned with local grievances against the government, has increasingly turned to violent attacks against churches, schools and government buildings, and has killed and displaced thousands.

Last year, Boko Haram took control of a number of towns and villages, predominantly in Borno state, declaring that it is running a state in the region.

Nigeria's woes

Croatian centre-right MEP Davor Ivo Stier says that the terror attacks in France last week - which dominated headlines and social media - gained far more attention than the attacks in Nigeria, despite the fact that the terror attack by Boko Haram in the country killed many more people.

He adds that the EU could help by supporting economic development in the country, whose government, he says, is currently incapable of keeping order.

Davor Ivo Stier

Nigeria attack background

The Nigerian government has estimated that no more than 150 people died as a result of the attack, but local officials have estimated the number of deaths at as many as 2,000.

Nigeria has often been accused of underestimating casualty figures to downplay the threat of Boko Haram.

The country's defence ministry has dismissed the higher fatality figure as "speculation and conjecture".

Next debate

That's the debate on the common security and defence policies finished.

Next, MEPs will be discussing last week's

attacks by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria.

This debate with Ms Mogherini was added to this afternoon's agenda at the opening of the session on Monday.

EU countries must work closely

Ms Mogherini concludes her long speech by noting that last week's terror attacks in France show the need for EU countries to work more closely with each other in the areas of defence and the sharing of intelligence.

"If we do not do this now, it means we do not understand what is going on in the world," she adds.

Common foreign policy

Ms Mogherini tells MEPs that the starting point of any common EU foreign policy is to work out what defines the "European interest".

Referring to an

image of EU leaders linking arms with other world leaders at the solidarity march through Paris last weekend in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, which has been widely circulated, she says she feels it reflects the "big strength" of the continent's capacity to reach out beyond its borders.

She rejects calls from some MEPs for the EU to take a smaller role in foreign policy matters, telling the chamber there is "no way", for example, that the Union will be reducing its diplomatic effort in Libya.

"It's not a matter of flags" she adds, but of "being able to do the job in the most effective way".

Federica Mogherini

MEPs to speak

MEPs who were not on the list to speak now have the chance to do so, during the five-minute 'catch the eye' procedure.

Asia activity

Labour MEP Neena Gill complains that people in Europe are currently being "short-changed" by the EU's lack of activity in Asia, and calls on Ms Mogherini to adopt a more "proactive approach" in the region.

The countries of the continent should be treated as "real and active" partners, she adds, noting that an upcoming EU-India summit - scheduled for later this year - is an opportunity to put this thinking into action.

Neena Gill

Foreign policy restrictions

Estonian centre-right MEP Tunne Kelam highlights the need for any future EU common foreign policy to have to operate in circumstances when the member states are spending less on defence, whilst certain global superpowers are spending more.

He says that the defence budgets of both Russia and China are around 4.5% of GDP, whilst most European states have cut their budgets to less than 2%.

Broad issues

There's a warm welcome for Ms Mogherini's approach from Polish Socialist MEP Bogusław Liberadzki, who praises her for concentrating on "broad issues" during her speech, as well as highlighting the link between foreign policy and the economy, particularly trade.

Bogusław Liberadzki

What are the Petersberg tasks?

The question of which foreign relations missions can be carried out in the name of the EU are defined by the so-called

Petersberg tasks, which were included in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

These criteria - whose name comes from the Petersberg Declaration, concluded in 1992 - limit the extent to which the EU could have a single military strategy for using troops and weapons.

They cover tasks such as humanitarian and rescue missions, disarmament operations, and conflict prevention. These criteria limit the extent to which the EU could have a single military strategy for using troops and weapons.