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Summary

  1. The day began at 08.00 GMT with a debate on the 2013 report on the activities of the European Ombudsman, who is responsible for investigating cases of maladministration by EU institutions.
  2. After that, MEPs held their traditional Thursday morning human rights debates, for which resolutions were voted on at lunchtime.
  3. The first centred on Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition leader in Russia who has been under house arrest since February last year.
  4. The second addressed the possible use of military courts in Pakistan to try suspects of last month's Taliban attacks on a school in Peshawar.
  5. The final debate highlighted gay rights in the central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan.
  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 and thanks for following

And with that, Vice-president Lambsdorff brings today - and this week's - session to a close.

MEPs will meet for their next plenary session in Strasbourg between the 9-12 February 2015.

MEPs 'must support' growth plan

Irish Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly says that, although the Parliament was not able today to reach a joint position on the Commission's legislative programme for this year, it behoves all MEPs to give their support to one of the main elements of the programme, the proposed investment package to boost EU growth.

Seán Kelly
BBC

Praise for ombudsman

MEPs begin by explaining how they voted on the resolution on the 2013 report on the activities of the European Ombudsman - a body which investigates cases of maladministration by EU institutions.

German centre-right MEP Peter Jahr praises the efforts of the Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, particularly for her efforts over the course of 2013 to boost awareness of the Ombudsman's activities using social media sites like Twitter.

Voting session ends

MEPs vote to approve the final resolution of today's voting session, which condemns last month's

arrest and detention of journalists and media executives in Turkey.

And with that, the voting session comes to an end. After a short break, MEPs will be able to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

No united voice

Unsurprisingly - since none of the political groups has an overall majority in the chamber- none of the individual group motions has gained enough votes to be passed.

No joint text

MEPs will now vote on a series of resolutions on the Commission's work programme for this year, tabled by Parliament's political groups.

MEPs were meant to have agreed a joint resolution to express the full opinion of the Parliament on the Commission's "work programme" for 2015, which Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented to the chamber at the last plenary session.

However, due to disagreements between the political groups over whether to criticise certain elements of the legislative package, a joint text has not been agreed.

Italian marines

MEPs are now voting on a resolution relating to Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, two Italian marines accused of having killed two Indian fishermen in 2012.

Parliament passes the motion, which calls for the pair - who are currently on bail in India - to be immediately repatriated to Italy, and condemning the fact that after nearly three years they have not yet been charged, thus undermining the rule of law.

European Parliament voting session
BBC

Concern over Egypt

MEPs pass another foreign affairs resolution, this time expressing concern at the "ongoing restrictions of fundamental rights" in Egypt under the regime of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since his election in May last year.

Ukraine motion

MEPs are now voting on a resolution condemning Russia's "aggressive and expansionist policy" in eastern Ukraine, and calling for the continuation of economic sanctions on Russia unless it respects the terms of the Minsk agreement.

The resolution is approved on a show of hands.

Libya resolution

MEPs also approve a resolution condemning the recent escalation of violence in Libya, and lending support to UN-brokered talks in Geneva to resolve the political crisis in the country.

Resolution on gay rights backed

MEPs are now voting on a resolution condemning a draft law in Kyrgyzstan that contains measures to counter "gay propaganda".

The resolution also calls on all countries around the world to decriminalise homosexuality.

The resolution is backed by MEPs.

Pakistan courts decision criticised

MEPs also approve a resolution criticising the potential use of military courts in Pakistan to try terror suspects linked to the Taliban attacks last month on a school in Peshawar.

The resolution describes the use of military justice as lacking "minimal conditions of international standards of the rule of law".

Navalny prosecution

MEPs are voting on a resolution deploring the prosecution against Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition leader in Russia, as politically motivated and unsubstantiated.

The motion is approved.

Stamina...

There's warm praise from German MEP Elmar Brok - who chairs the Parliament's foreign affairs committee - for Ms Mogherini, who as well as being present in the chamber this morning, also represented the Commission over a marathon eight-hour session on foreign affairs yesterday.

Voting session about to begin

That's the final human rights debate of the morning finished.

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

EU raised concerns

Making her final speech in this morning's session, Federica Mogherini says the Commission believes the draft law would restrict the freedom of association and would undermine LGBT groups.

She says that the EU has raised concerns about the law, and reminded the authorities of Kyrgyzstan of its obligations under international commitments, and pledges to use "all possible means" within her powers to lobby against the law being passed.

Federica Mogherini
BBC

Resolution on gay rights

In a few minutes - lunchtime in Strasbourg - MEPs will be voting on a

resolution condemning the draft law in Kyrgyzstan, and calling for it to be immediately withdrawn.

The resolution also calls on all countries around the world to decriminalise homosexuality.

Persecution

Last January, Human Rights Watch published a

report into the rights of gay and bisexual people in the Kyrgyzstan.

Although consensual sex between men was decriminalised in 1998, the report - which was based on interviews with 40 gay and bisexual men in four regions of the country - said that gay and bisexual men were still subject to abuse at the hands of the Kyrgyz police, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence.

Gay rights

That's the debate on the trials of terror suspects in Pakistan finished.

We now move on to the final human rights debate of the morning, which is about gay rights in the central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan.

Last October, the Kyrgyz Parliament approved at first reading a new law against what it describes as "gay propaganda".

The bill would mandate jail terms for gay-rights activists and others who are deemed to have created "a positive attitude toward non-traditional sexual relations".

Attack victims

Federica Mogherini - who is representing the Commission in today's debate - says that the re-opening of the school in Peshawar this week shows that "the right to education cannot be stopped by such attacks".

She continues that "first victims of attacks are Muslims", adding that the EU has added its support to Pakistani government efforts to prevent radicalisation in the country.

Federica Mogherini
BBC

Labour MEP Afzal Khan - who was born in Pakistan - says that the country is paying a a heavy price in the fight against terrorism.

He calls on the EU to work "arm-in-arm" with Pakistan in its attempts to counter the spread of militancy, which he adds must include strengthening the country's justice system to ensure a more robust respect for the rule of law.

Afzal Khan
BBC

Special courts authorised

The law to authorise the special courts received the votes of all 242 MPs present in the Pakistan parliament, 14 more than the two-thirds majority required.

Members of two religious parties, as well as the opposition PTI party of former cricketer Imran Khan, abstained.

Critics of the military courts oppose handing the army more powers in a country with a history of military coups.

They also fear the process will lead to innocent people being convicted and executed without independent scrutiny inside the courts, with human rights groups expressing concern that the trials could lead to a cycle of violence.

Trial risks

Last week, Pakistan said it would be

trying the suspects in military courts - a decision which has prompted criticism from some leading human rights groups, who have said that this represents a failure of civilian government that presents serious risks.

British Green MEP Jean Lambert says that the courts "do not meet the standards of justice" that Pakistan has signed up to in various international agreements, including the EU's so-called Generalised Scheme of Preferences (or GSP) trading deals.

Jean Lambert
BBC

Pakistan debate begins

That's the debate on Alexei Navalny finished.

We now move on to the next human rights debate this morning, which is about the Taliban attacks last month on a school in Pakistan.

Militants killed at least 152 people, most of them children, at the Army Public School in Peshawar.

Russian internal policies

British Conservative MEP Charles Tannock says that, whilst international attention has focused on Russia's foreign policy in the wake of its actions in Crimea, the case of Mr Navalny is a reminder of the domestic policies of Vladimir Putin's "increasingly authoritarian regime".

He adds that the conviction of his brother - who is also facing a three-and-a-half year custodial sentence - was a "conviction of association" more redolent of regimes like North Korea.

Charles Tannock
BBC

Awkward questions

Navalny's rise in Russian politics began in 2008 when he started blogging about alleged malpractice and corruption at some of Russia's big state-controlled corporations.

He became a minority shareholder in major oil companies, banks and ministries, and began to ask awkward questions about holes in state finances.

He was also the leader of the December 2011 protests against alleged electoral fraud in the Russian parliamentary elections.

Alexei Navalny
AP

Human rights debate

That's the debate on the European Ombudsman finished.

We now move on to a series of human rights debates, starting with the case of Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader in Russia who has been under house arrest since February last year.

Last December, Mr Navalny was

given a suspended prison sentence of three-and-a-half years for defrauding two firms.

He has insisted the legal cases against him are motivated by his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Concluding remarks from Commission

On behalf of the European Commission, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans reiterates that the new executive is committed to improving its levels of accountability and transparency.

He adds that the reason why the Commission got the biggest share of complaints of all the EU institutions was because it is the body responsible for initiating legislation in the bloc and has the "biggest impact" on the live of people in Europe.

Frans Timmermans
BBC

Complaint statistics

Unsurprisingly, the most complaints to the Ombudsman came from Germany, the EU's most populous member - with 269 registered in 2013.

However, only 40 of these resulted in an inquiry being opened.

TTIP negotiations

As Ombudsman, she has been involved in a number of high-profile investigations.

This July, she opened two investigations into the transparency of TTIP, the controversial trade deal that the EU is currently negotiating with the United States.

The

public consultation that accompanied the investigation received more than 6,000 emails.

It follows concerns from a number of groups that the negotiations on the deal are too secretive, thus posing a problem of democratic accountability.

Where did complaints come from?

In total, the Ombudsman opened 350 inquiries in 2013, and closed 461 complaints.

Of the inquiries that were closed, the overwhelming majority - 77% - came from individuals, with the remainder registered by companies, associations and other organisations.

Call for broader role

Italian MEP Eleonora Evi - from the Eurosceptic Five Star movement - says she worries that 68% of the complaints registered with the Ombudsman fell outside its legal remit, and urges a broadening of the body's role.

Report criticism

Spanish left-wing MEP Ángela Vallina says the report is "not satisfactory", adding that there was not enough in it about the activities the Ombudsman is taking to look into the so-called revolving doors issue, which relates to what EU officials do when they finish working in the institutions and take related jobs in the commercial sector.

She concludes that she thinks the report is "dressing up reality", adding that she feels little will change in the new Commission - which took office at the start of last November - in terms of its culture and method of working.

Ángela Vallina
BBC

What does the European Ombudsman do?

The Ombudsman is responsible for investigating cases of maladministration by EU institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The most regular reason for complaint against EU institutions is on transparency - in 2013, over 25% of the complaints asked the Ombudsman to look into cases where documents and information might be made available.

The report - which was

published four months ago - said that, during the course of that year, the Ombudsman's office received 23, 245 requests - of which 2, 420 were complaints against EU institutions.

Commission reaction

Commission First-Vice President Frans Timmermans says the body is committed to undertaking its work "more transparently", and is seeking to become "more accountable" in the way it functions.

He notes, however, that the share of complaints recorded against the Commission went up during the year - even if the actual number of complaints went down - and strives to do more to change this.

Ombudsman's review

Ms O'Reilly thanks MEPs for the support they have given her since she took office.

She continues that, over the course of 2013, she sought to "take the Ombudsman to the next level", and to this end has put in place a new investigations strategy.

She says she welcomes a recent decision by the Commission to

publish eight EU textual proposals relating to the EU's trade deal with the United States, covering areas like competition, food safety and animal health, in a bid to increase transparency, and says she is encouraged by the Commission's promises to open up more details of the negotiations.

Emily O'Reilly
BBC

Rapporteur reaction

Polish centre-right MEP Jaroslaw Walesa, who has prepared a reaction to the report on behalf of the Parliament, praises Ms O'Reilly for working "very efficiency" and with "admirable commitment" right from the start of her mandate in 2013.

On the

report itself, he says that it is important to acknowledge the rise in complaints against EU institutions during the course of the year, and stresses the importance of further developing a social media communication strategy to improve dissemination of the Ombudsman's work.

During the year, the number of followers of the Ombudsman's official Twitter account trebled during the year, he adds.

Jaroslaw Walesa
BBC

Good Morning

Hello and welcome to BBC Democracy Live's coverage of this fourth and final day of this month's plenary session in Strasbourg.

The first item on this morning's agenda is a debate about a report on the activities of the European Ombudsman during 2013.

The current European Ombudsman, former Irish ombudsman and journalist Emily O'Reilly, has held the post since July 2013, following the retirement of Nikiforos Diamandouros.

At the last plenary session of the Parliament in December, MEPs re-elected the rest of the current 2014-2019 term of the European Parliament.