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Summary

  1. The day's business began at 14.00 GMT with a debate on new EU counter-terrorism measures, in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.
  2. After that, MEPs debated the European Commission's proposed investment plan, which hopes to raise €315bn in investment over the next three years.
  3. The final debate of the sitting was on climate change targets, ahead of a UN conference to be held in Paris in September.
  4. On-demand video for the counter-terrorism debate will be available on this page shortly, in the 'Key Video' section.
  5. 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

Goodnight

This evening's debate on climate change - the final item on the agenda - comes to a close.

MEPs will now close today's sitting with a short round of one-minute speeches on topical subjects, for which we are unfortunately unable to provide live video coverage.

The next sitting of the European Parliament will be the full plenary session in just under two weeks' time, between 9-12 February. We hope you can join us then.

Minister's response

European Parliament

Brussels

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica - who is EU Secretary in the Latvian government - gives a closing speech on behalf of the Council of Ministers.

She says that whilst member states recognise that the Lima negotiations were "difficult", she highlights that there is "no alternative" but to continue negotiations ahead of the Paris conference.

Stressing the importance of climate change policy to Latvia's six-month presidency of the Council - which began earlier this month - she says the EU must work to develop an energy policy based on "solidarity" between countries and more efficient use of resources.

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica
BBC

Commissioner's response

European Parliament

Brussels

Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete says public funds must be used to leverage further private money for investment in renewable energy, and going to support developing countries included in the deal to help them achieve whatever goals are agreed.

In response to criticism from some MEPs that the October climate targets will hamper the economies of certain EU countries, he underlines that the agreement was reached unanimously by the 28 members of the bloc.

He finishes by pledging to bring forward "credible proposals" on behalf of the EU to the Paris talks.

Miguel Arias Canete
BBC

Catching the eye

We're now on to the "catch the eye" procedure, when unscheduled speakers can make short interventions before the debate is closed by the Council and Commission.

'A few crazy people'

European Parliament

Brussels

Polish Eurosceptic Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz introduces a different tone into the debate, arguing that only "a few crazy people" believe that climate change is being caused by human activities.

He criticises the effects of the recently-agreed 2030 EU climate targets, saying that taxpayers in Poland will ultimately have to pay for implementing them, and that they will leave the country dependent on buying energy from France and Germany.

'Discouraging investment'

European Parliament

Brussels

Polish Conservative Jadwiga Wisniewska says she worries that the EU's current 2030 climate goals are discouraging investment in Europe and making its businesses less competitive.

She says an agreement needs greater commitments from major polluters outside the EU, claiming that by 2030 the bloc will only represent a small proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Jadwiga Wisniewska
BBC

Committee resolution

MEPs on the Parliament's environment committee passed a

resolution in November that said EU countries should play a "key role" in the negotiations, and that rich nations should stick to their promise of giving $100bn per year to the UN's Green Climate Fund by 2020.

It also said that the agreement reached at Paris next year should include "clear steps" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

Climate change targets

After an

agreement reached last October, new EU climate change targets have been set for the year 2030 - replacing the
current targets, which apply until 2020.

Leaders agreed a nationally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by the year 2030.

Other targets, which will only be binding at an EU level, aim to boost renewable energy use to 27% of the total energy mix, and increase energy efficiency by at least 27%.

ETS reform

European Parliament

Brussels

German centre-right MEP Ivo Belet says that whilst "no one else can hold a candle" to the EU's climate change targets, more must be done in Europe to ensure better development of sustainable energy sources, and in particular calls for reform of the bloc's "ETS" system.

This is a policy to reduce climate change in the 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

In all, it covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants.

Stations covered by the system have a cap set on the amount of certain greenhouse gases that they can emit.

They have the right, however, to buy and trade emissions "allowances" - which allow them to emit either one tonne of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent amount of two more powerful greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (NO2) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

Established targets

Miguel Arias Canete tells MEPs that there remains much to do ahead of the Paris conference, noting the document on commitments negotiated at Lima is "way too long" at the moment.

He says he will be submitting a communication on the "Paris protocol", to ensure that any agreed targets are transparent and legally binding, and that the EU's 2030 climate targets are transparently established in the in the final deal.

Miguel Arias Canete
BBC

Climate change goals

The

agreed document called for:

  • An "ambitious agreement" in 2015 that reflects "differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" of each nation
  • Developed countries to provide financial support to "vulnerable" developing nations
  • National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states "ready to do so"
  • Countries to set targets that go beyond their "current undertaking"
  • The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015

Moving on to climate change talks

European Parliament

Brussels

That's the debate on the Commission's proposed investment fund over.

The next item on the agenda is a debate with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and Ms Kalnina-Lukasevica from the Council of Ministers, about what approach EU countries should adopt in climate change negotiations, ahead of a UN summit in Paris this September.

The summit in Paris follows a preparatory meeting in Lima last month, when participating countries

reached a broad agreement on how climate change should be tackled.

Hittng target?

European Parliament

Brussels

Making a more obvious attempt to relate her speech to specific points raised by the MEPs, Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica - who is EU Secretary in the Latvian government - says that although national governments are able to invest directly into the fund, they will also be able to contribute "at project level" or through investment platforms.

She finishes by noting that the "ambitious" timetable set by EU leaders and the Commission to implement the scheme by this summer will require much work both between the member states and among MEPs, but says she is confident the target can be stuck to.

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica
BBC

Any answers?

European Parliament

Brussels

Closing the debate, Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen again insists that the fund should not be seen as a "one-off measure", and repeats his calls for the investment plan to be accompanied by structural reforms and improvements to the EU's single market.

As is usual for a commissioner speaking in the Parliament, he does not use his closing speech to answer the many questions asked of him during the debate, instead choosing to repeat his call for national governments to invest in the fund.

Jyrki Katainen
BBC

Plea to reform VAT laws

European Parliament

Brussels

British Conservative Vicky Ford repeats a point made by her group leader Syed Kammall earlier in the debate, saying that investment among smaller businesses is being held back by EU-wide laws on VAT.

She adds that the VAT rules - which she says were intended to fight tax avoidance in big businesses - are "too complicated" for smaller firms to deal with, and pose too much of a burden on them.

Turning to Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica - who will close the debate shortly - she asks the Council to give micro-businesses an exemption to the laws.

"Just do it," she concludes.

Vicky Ford
BBC

Speeches end

European Parliament

Brussels

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 French MEP Sylvie Goulard - one of the Parliament's 14 vice-presidents - who is chairing the debate.

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.

Governments' support?

The Commission has said that it hopes national governments will provide investment into the scheme - but no EU member states have so far publically pledged that they will be putting money into the fund.

In response to a specific question on this during his appearance in front of MEPs in the Economic Affairs Committee yesterday, Commissioner Katainen said that "several governments" had contacted the Commission to obtain further details of the scheme, although he declined to reveal how many had pledged money for the fund so far.

ILO report

European Parliament

Brussels

Austrian Green MEP Monika Vana refers to an "ILO report" - that's an evaluation of the fund that

has been published today by the International Labour Organisation.

The report said that if the plan does indeed manage to raise €315bn in investment, then it could create more than two million jobs across Europe.

However, the report noted that this would only be achieved if the plan included "significant" levels of private investment, especially for small businesses, and if investment is targeted at countries that have a "greater need" for investment.

"In the absence of these two conditions, the plan will make little or no difference to the EU employment outlook," it concludes.

Defence of Greece

European Parliament

Brussels

Manfred Weber's comments on the proposals of the new Greek government, led by Alexis Tsipras, draw a strong defence from Greek Syriza MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis.

He says criticism of the new government has often been guilty of ""scaremongering and distortion", and tells MEPs that his party's rejection of austerity "holds out hope" to the rest of Europe.

Calling the investment package "inadequate", he says the plans should contain a greater level of public funds provided by EU institutions, and that investment should be targeted at countries where the country is performing poorly and levels of unemployment are very high.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis
BBC

Attractive investment?

European Parliament

Brussels

British MEP Syed Kammall - who heads the UK Conservatives and the ECR group in the Parliament - says that adequate money for investment exists in the private sector, but that investors are "scared off by red tape" and see opportunities outside Europe as more attractive.

Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, he says he wonders "how many investors have to leave the EU" before the approach to regulation changes, but says the answer is "blowing in the wind".

Greek elections

European Parliament

Brussels

The election results in Greece on Sunday draw comment from German MEP and leader of the centre-right EPP group Manfred Weber, who says the calls from the new Greek government for a reduction (or "haircut") in its debt obligations to the EU and IMF pose a "threat" to investment in Europe.

He adds that a failure from a national government to fulfil its debt obligations would undermine the confidence of investors.

He also says he finds it "surprising" that the new Greek cabinet does not contain "a single female minister".

What is the investment plan?

The plan involves using a €16bn guarantee from the EU budget and €5bn contribution from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to try and encourage private firms to invest in infrastructure projects.

The aim then is that this initial pledge - or "seed money" - will be enough to raise 15 times as much cash for investment over three years.

The Commission has said this so-called leverage factor of 15 is based on "prudent estimates from historical experience" - but there have been plenty of critics who have dismissed this as overly optimistic.

Investment held back

European Parliament

Brussels

Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen says that the new fund must be able to make higher-risk investments, in order to stimulate a greater level of private investment in the EU, noting that a "crisis of confidence" is holding back investment in the continent at the moment.

Referring to the fund by its official name - the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - Mr Katainen outlines details of the fund that were included in the legislative proposals earlier this month.

He again stresses that the fund should be seen as part of wider plans to strengthen the EU's single market and make European economies more competitive by encouraging reforms.

Jyrki Katainen
BBC

Agreement on scheme

European Parliament

Brussels

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica - who is EU Secretary in the Latvian government - kicks off the debate on behalf of the Council of Ministers, which represents the different national governments of the EU.

Latvia took over from Italy in the six-month rotating presidency of the Council at the start of this month, meaning the country will be responsible for chairing meetings of the Council until this June.

She outlines agreement in the Council for the scheme and for the need to boost investment in Europe, although she underlines that it must be seen simply as "one ingredient" in a strategy to boost economic growth, which she also says must include the completion of economic "structural reforms".

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica
BBC

Raising money

European Parliament

Brussels

That's the debate on EU counter-security measures finished.

MEPs now move on to their next item: a debate with the Commission and the Council of Ministers (representing the governments of member states) about the Commission's proposed investment plan.

It is hoped that the package raises €315bn in EU-wide investment in public and private money to boost economic growth.

The Commission outlined its

legislative proposals for the plan earlier this month, which it hopes MEPs will agree to quickly so that the scheme can be approved by June.

Agreement needed

European Parliament

Brussels

Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tells MEPs that they should not doubt that the Commission will "do its part" in support of a response to terror threats in Europe.

He says he wants to reiterate that the Commission's position on PNR "remains unchanged" for the time being, and that the executive stands ready to help "EU legislators" - i.e. MEPs and the Council of Ministers - to reach a "quick agreement" on a new deal.

Commission deputy leader Frans Timmermans announced last week that the Commission would be reviewing its proposed law to force airline companies to share passenger information with national security agencies for flights entering and leaving EU airspace.

He said the executive would be doing this to take account of opposition to the proposals among some MEPs, to ensure that a "swift decision" could be made on the project, originally proposed by the executive four years ago.

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

'Catch the eye'

We're now on to the "catch the eye" procedure - when MEPs not on the speakers' list can make short interventions in the debate.

'Necessary' to counter-terrorism strategy

European Parliament

Brussels

Another British MEP, Conservative Geoffrey Van Orden, says he is "astonished" by the level of opposition to new PNR proposals among other members who have spoken so far. and says he wonders what scale of security threat would be necessary for them to see the need for the legislation.

He adds that, as long as the proposals include proper oversight on the use of the data by democratically-elected governments, they should be seen as a "necessary" part of a counter-terror strategy.

Multiple approaches

European Parliament

Brussels

Labour MEP Claude Moraes - who chairs the civil liberties committee that rejected the original PNR proposals in 2013 - says a compromise on new laws can be found, and that provided adequate safeguards can be put in place, an agreement may not be "as difficult as some colleagues must think".

However, he also repeats the calls from other MEPs who have spoken in today's debate that any new counter-terrorism strategy must address the causes of terrorism, noting that a new law on sharing airline information is "not the only opponent" of the necessary approach.

Claude Moraes
BBC

ECJ ruling

European Parliament

Brussels

German Conservative Jörg Leichtfied says that the Commission needs to re-submit a proposal which "reflects" the ECJ's ruling on data retention.

However, he says he is not personally convinced of the need for a new EU-wide law on sharing PNR data, adding that "the attacks in Paris were not due to a lack of information".

Instead, he suggests that EU countries need to provide greater support and resources to police forces.

@DaveKeating

Dave Keating from the European Voice newspaper

tweets: "@Avramopoulos says Guardian report false, there's no plan for a revised proposal on passenger name records #PNR. So what was leaked doc?"

@RobertaMetsola

Roberta Metsola MEP tweets: "Our values will not be watered down in the face of terror" - speaking at #EPlenary on #Terrorism

What is PNR?

Passenger name record - or PNR - information is collected by airline companies when you check-in or reserve a flight.

The information includes passengers' names, travel itinerary, and payment and contact details.

The Commission is proposing that airline companies should automatically have to hand over these data to national security agencies for flights in and out of EU airspace, which they would then use to identify those who might be involved in serious crime or terrorism.

The EU already has already concluded agreements to share this data in advance of flights to the United States, Canada and Australia.

Flights
BBC

Data ruling

European Parliament

Brussels

German Socialist MEP Birgit Sippel mentions a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on data retention, which she says calls into question the legality of future laws in this area.

The

ruling from the Luxembourg court said a 2006 directive requiring telecoms firms to store communications data for up to two years breached basic rights.

The court said that the directive enables "wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, without that interference being limited to what is strictly necessary".

Many MEPs, particularly in the Liberal and Green groups, have argued that the current proposals on sharing of PNR data between countries might contravene this ruling.

Turkey criticised

European Parliament

Brussels

UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall says any counter-terror measures must "get Europe's Muslim's on side" - and calls for Muslim leaders to take greater efforts to tackle the "cancer" of religious extremism.

He also criticises the actions of Turkey - an EU candidate country - of "turning a blind eye" to jihadists crossing its border to fight in Syria, despite having received "nearly a billion Euros" in pre-accession funding.

Paul Nuttall
BBC

Support and opposition

European Parliament

Brussels

British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope - who acted as the rapporteur, or lead negotiator for the Parliament, on the proposals - reiterates his support for passing a new PNR law.

However, Liberal group leader and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt says his group will continue to oppose a new law on airline information sharing until a deal is put forward that comes with extra guarantees the protection of privacy and how the data is used.

@GuyVerhofstadt

President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Guy Verhofstadt MEP tweets: We are in favor of European #PNR system WITH safeguards on privacy, to be used agst criminals, not agst ordinary citizens #antiterrorism

Combating terrorism

European Parliament

Brussels

On behalf of the Socialist group, their leader and Italian MEP Gianni Pitella questions the need for a new deal on sharing passenger name record (or PNR) information, saying any new measures that are proposed must not undermine the freedom of EU citizens.

"The PNR is not going to give you a solution to problems on its own," he says, adding that it could only be one measure as part of a wider vision on tackling terrorism, including greater efforts to use existing powers, and combat the causes of radicalisation, including poverty and social exclusion.

Gianni Pitella
BBC

Political groupings

European Parliament

Brussels

The debate will now begin with speeches on behalf of the political groups.

On behalf of the centre-right EPP group, German MEP Monika Hohlmeier calls on her colleagues to show "a sense of solidarity" on the issue, regardless of the political persuasion of the different national governments.

She says they should be prepared to enter into discussions on controversial issues - including passenger sharing legislation - and stresses the need to look at preventing radicalisation.