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Summary

  1. MEPs began the sitting by debating proposed changes to the EU's long-term budget that allow €21bn in unused spending initially earmarked for 2014 to be carried over into 2015-17.
  2. MEPs then debated a resolution marking the 100th anniversary of the mass killing of of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 - which the Parliament recognises as genocide (Key Video).
  3. The resolution, repeating a call for Turkey to acknowledge the events as genocide, was passed by a big majority at the voting session.
  4. After that, MEPs debated a statement from the European Commission on quotas for disabled people in the EU institutions.
  5. In the final debate the evening, MEPs debated a planned agreement between the EU and Mexico to share passenger data from European flights with the Mexican security authorities.
  6. The sitting closed with a round of short, topical speeches.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Thank you and goodnight

And with that, tonight's sitting draws to a close.

Just to recap, MEPs today voted to:

  • allow €21bn in unused EU spending initially earmarked for 2014 to be carried over into the 2015-17 budget period
  • repeat calls for Turkey to recognise the
    mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as an act of genocide
  • approve €6m in EU funds to help retrain around 2,500 workers made redundant from France's former road haulage company Mory-Ducros last year
  • call on member states to strengthen their efforts to tackle anti-Roma discrimination
  • approve decisions from the member states to set up EU advisory committees on employment and social protection in the EU

MEPs will next meet in plenary at the end of this month, in Strasbourg, between 27-30 April.

Explanations of votes

We'll now have short speeches from MEPs, who can explain how they voted during this evening's voting session.

This normally occurs after the voting session itself, but was moved until the end of today's sitting due to a lack of time.

In the hot seat

Ryszard Czarnecki
BBC
Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, one of the Parliament's 14 vice-presidents, is chairing proceedings in the chamber during this evening's speeches.

Short speeches begin

With the debate on the EU-Mexico PNR deal finished, tonight's sitting will now be closed with a round of short, topical one-minute speeches.

This item, traditionally held at the end of the Monday plenary sittings in Strasbourg, allows backbench MEPs the chance to speak about any subject they choose.

Most use it as an opportunity to speak on a recent news story or political development in their home region or country.

Commission's position with Mexico

Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says the negotiations with Mexico cannot be "finished" before the ECJ has come to a decision on the Canada deal.

He says he has insisted to the Mexican authorities that they drop the fines as a pre-condition for negotiations beginning - and says that he wants the country to commit to working towards a "legally sound agreement".

In response to comments made by some of the MEPs about the threats made by Mexico to begin fining airline companies, he didn't find there was blackmail, but rather "interlocutors of good faith".

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

Mexican 'blackmail'

Spanish left-wing MEP Marina Albiol Guzman says the demands of Mexican authorities in this case, and the threat of fines, amount to "blackmail", and says she fears for the security of any information that would be passed to the country under any deal struck by the EU.

Her political group, the GUE/NGL, is broadly opposed to agreements to force the sharing of PNR data.

Marina Albiol Guzman
BBC

Call to wait for ECJ ruling

Hungarian Socialist Péter Niedermuller urges negotiations on a PNR deal with Mexico to begin as soon as possible - although he insists that any agreement must respect data privacy rules and people's right to a "private life".

To this end, he says he supports waiting for the ECJ ruling on the similar deal with Canada before negotiations are allowed to begin with Mexico.

Péter Niedermuller
BBC

Parliamentary proposal

The new proposals to establish EU-wide sharing of airline passenger data are currently making its way through the European Parliament - the Civil Liberties Committee are due to be considering amendments soon.

The British Conservative MEP in charge of steering the new law through Parliament, Timothy Kirkhope, came up with revised plans for the law in February - and urged his colleagues to back it.

The Commission's original plans, tabled under the previous administration in 2011, were rejected by the committee in 2013, with a number of MEPs saying the law didn't offer strong enough measures for the protection of personal data.

However, the issue has come back onto the agenda following the Charlie Hebdo killings - with both the Commission and member states putting pressure on the Parliament to pass the bill.

The Parliament passed a resolution in February committing itself to "work towards" the finalisation of a PNR deal by the end of the year - but MEPs also asked for negotiations on EU data protection law to be re-booted after years of impasse, so that talks on both reforms could take place "in parallel".

Plane
Reuters

No one's business

German Conservative Beatrix von Storch says she does not support deals to share passenger data - which she says is not the business of either member states or the EU.

It is a contrast to the position of her group (the ECR) to plans for a new law, currently making its way through the European Parliament, to force the sharing of passenger data to national security authorities within the EU, which is more broadly supportive.

Beatrix von Storch
BBC

PNR Agreement

The European Commission recently announced it wanted to work towards finalising a PNR agreement between the EU and Mexico - similar to ones it has already signed off with Australia, Canada, and the United States.

The deals have to get the approval of the European Parliament before coming into force - so far, only the agreements with the US and Australia have obtained this.

As Commissioner Avramopoulous has said, the deal with Canada, as well as a law to force the sharing of data between EU countries, have been stymied by wrangles with MEPs over whether they contravene data protection standards.

Commissioner comments

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says a decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on whether the EU's PNR deal with Canada complies with EU data privacy law "later this year".

He adds that negotiations on a PNR deal with Mexico will not be able to start until this decision has been made.

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

Air passenger data debate

That's the debate on the disability quotas in EU institutions finished.

Next up, MEPs will move to a debate added to today's agenda by the centre-right EPP group, on requests from Mexico for European air carriers to hand over passenger data to their security authorities.

Mexico wants the passenger name record (or "PNR") information - which includes passengers' names, travel details and payment details - to help profile potential terror suspects and serious criminals.

However, in the absence of an EU-wide legal framework to allow this, Mexico recently said it would start charging €27,272 per flight for EU planes landing in or departing from Mexican airports from July, if EU airlines fail to provide them with the data.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has said he wants to persuade Mexico not go through with the threat.

The case for quotas

However, Hungarian centre-right MEP Adam Kosa, who is himself deaf and addresses the Parliament in sign language, lends his support for mandatory quotas.

Adam Kosa
BBC

A number of EU countries, such as France and Austria, have legal quotas for the number of disabled people that companies - particularly larger companies - have to employ.

Commissioner comments

Commissioner Georgieva tells MEPs that, because the Commission does not collect precise data on the number of its employees with disabilities for privacy reasons surrounding medical data, the EU executive does not have a precise figure for this.

However, she says in a survey this year, 5.7% of staff described themselves as disabled - up around 1% from the year before, which she says is evidence the Commission's inclusion strategy for disabled people "seems to be bearing fruit".

On the issue of quotas, she says the current legal framework doesn't allow the Commission to have them, but she says the body is looking at ways to "do more" to be a "mirror-image" of European society.

However, she acknowledges that the Commission is "not there yet".

EU disabeld workers debate

Next up this evening is a debate on a statement by Budgets Commissioner Kristilana Georgieva on employment quotas for disabled people working in the EU institutions.

Anti-Roma discrimination

MEPs also approve, by 554 votes to 13 with 44 abstentions, a resolution on a topic debated during their last plenary sitting, condemning what it describes as a rise in anti-Roma discrimination in Europe.

The

joint text agreed between the Parliament's seven political groups calls on member states to strengthen their efforts to combat anti-Roma discrimination.

It also calls for national governments and the European Commission to make children a priority in EU frameworks aiming to integrate the EU Roma population.

And with that, the voting session comes to a close.

Vote
BBC

Armenian resolution

The Parliament's resolution on the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 is passed by another big majority.

The text agreed by the political groups repeats its call for Turkey to recognise the events as genocide, adding that such a move would "pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples".

Carry over

MEPs approve, by an overwhelming majority, a decision by member states to allow €21bn in unused spending initially earmarked for 2014 in the EU's long-term budget to be carried over into the 2015-17 spending period.

The changes to the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework were debated earlier this afternoon.

Decisions approved

Next, MEPs are going to be voting on whether to approve two decisions from the Council of Ministers, representing member states, to set up an EU advisory committee on employment and give advisory status to the Social Protection Committee.

The first would advise on how EU institutions and member states can best meet employment targets, whilst the second will monitor social protection across the 28-member bloc.

It follows a pledge made by EU leaders in 2013 to improve the "social dimension" of the single currency union.

Both decisions are approved.

Debate finished and voting session begins

That's the debate on Armenian genocide recognition and commemoration finished - MEPs will now take their seats for this evening's voting session, during which the resolution will be put to the vote.

First, MEPs will be voting on an application for EU money made under the so-called Globalisation Adjustment Fund - a pot of money in the EU budget that can be claimed to help re-train people who have been laid off in large numbers at struggling companies.

The application at today's session is for €6m to help around 2,500 workers made redundant in France's former road haulage company Mory-Ducros last year.

The application is approved.

Commission and Parliament disagree

Commissioner Georgieva closes the debate on behalf of the Commission.

In response to the specific question of why the Commission does not describe the events as "genocide", she says that although the Commission respects the Parliament's use of the description, it is nevertheless the case that there still exist "differences in use" among member states.

She adds that the EU executive has an "obligation to bring views in unity" and to support actions which lead to "advanced conciliation" between neighbouring countries.

Commissioner Georgieva
BBC

Use of term 'genocide'

Ten EU countries - Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden - have recognised the events as genocide.

For its part, the UK government says it condemns the massacres but has not officially used the term, preferring to use different terminology to describe the events.

Although the European Parliament has described the events as genocide since 1987, other EU institutions have taken a more diplomatic tone.

As some of the MEPs have pointed out this afternoon, Commissioner Georgieva did not use the word in her opening speech in the debate.

Friday's commemoration

Next Friday - 24 April - will see a series of events in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, to commemorate the tragedy.

It will include a torch-lit march through the city to the Genocide Memorial, as well as visits from some prominent EU leaders such as French president Francois Hollande and Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski.

EU-Turkey relations

Turkey applied for full membership of the EU in 1987, although it wasn't until 1999 that the country became an official membership candidate and not until late 2005 that it started accession talks.

Its long road to potential membership has been beset with political difficulties, not least its relationship with EU member Cyprus.

Tensions remain over the breakaway ethnic Turkish administration in northern Cyprus, which is only recognised by Ankara.

So far only 13 of Turkey's 35 negotiating chapters have been opened, and only one has been closed.

Negotiations have been overshadowed by concerns about freedom of speech and democracy in Turkey, treatment of religious minorities, and women's and children's rights.

Turkish flag
BBC

Papal intervention

Pope Francis caused headlines on Sunday when he used the term to describe the killings, declaring the events "the first genocide of the 20th Century" during at a Mass at St Peter's Basilica, attended by the Armenian president, on Sunday.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he condemned the Pope for the comments and warned him to "not repeat this mistake".

In the chamber, Italian MEP Mario Borghezio criticises the Turkish leader's use of language, adding that that he should not address the pontiff "like a mafioso".

Pope Francis
AP

Recognition

Belgian Conservative Mark Demesmaeker says today's resolution is "certainly not against the Turkish people or their leaders", but is simply about giving "history a place".

He adds that he feels recognition will "liberate" Turkey not "constrain" it.

Mark Demesmaeker
BBC

Ignoring the vote

The text of the joint resolution also welcomes statements made by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last year, when they offered condolences to the grandchildren of those who lost their lives and acknowledged the significance of the events for Armenians.

The text calls the comments a "step in the right direction".

However, Mr Erdoğan has already said he will be disregarding the European Parliament's vote, due later this evening.

He was

quoted by the Reuters news agency earlier today as saying any decisions the MEPs come to today will "go in one ear and out the other".

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Reuters

What's in the Parliament's resolution?

The

joint resolution, agreed between Parliament's seven political groups yesterday, urges Turkey to "come to terms with its past", and repeats its call for the country to recognise the events as genocide.

It says such a move would "pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples".

It also urges Turkey to continue reconciliation efforts with Armenia, including continuing the opening up of its historical archives on the matter.

Confronting history

German Socialist Knut Fleckenstein says an admission from Turkey that the events do constitute genocide would be a recognition of "reality".

He says that, as a German, he is aware of the difficulty countries can having in "working through" their history, but adds that the recognition of genocide status would provide a vital "basis of trust" for Turkey to improve its relations with Armenia in the future.

Knut Fleckenstein
BBC

Dispute over terminology

The dispute about whether the killings constitute genocide centres on the question of premeditation - the degree to which the killings were orchestrated.

Many historians, governments and the Armenian people believe that they were; but a number of scholars question this.

Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term "genocide" in 1943, referred to the atrocities against Armenians as well as the Nazi massacres of Jews when describing his investigations.

Turkish officials accept that atrocities were committed but argue that there was no systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people, and point out that many innocent Muslim Turks also died in the turmoil of war.

What happened?

There is general agreement that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died when the Ottoman Turks deported them en masse from eastern Anatolia to the Syrian desert and elsewhere during 1915-16.

They were killed or died from starvation or disease.

However, the number of Armenian dead is disputed: Armenians say 1.5 million died, whilst Turkey estimates the total to be 300,000.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has said the death toll was "more than a million".

1915 killings
AFP

'Wider benefits'

EU Affairs minister Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica says the normalisation of ties between Turkey and Armenia would lead to wider benefits across the region.

She says the EU is committed to promoting co-operation between the two countries "high" on the presidency agenda of Latvia - which holds the rotating presidency until this June.

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica
BBC

Debate on Armenian killings in 1915

Next, MEPs will be discussing a resolution - to be put to the vote this evening - on the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, with Ms Georgieva and Latvian EU Affairs minister Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica, representing the EU's Council of Ministers.

The resolution is meant to mark the 100th anniversary of the events, which occurred in 1915.

As has been the case for a while, today's resolution describes the event as "genocide" - a description MEPs have used since a

1987 resolution on the same issue.

This term, however, is rejected by the Turkey - an EU candidate country since 1999.

Although Turkish officials accept that atrocities were committed, they deny any systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people, arguing that it was a civil war in which both sides died.

Budget debate over

That's the debate on changes to the EU's long-term budget finished. MEPs will decide whether to approve the changes at this evening's voting session from 17.30 BST.

'Better predictions'

Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says the EU executive has worked with member states to get better predictions on spending.

She adds her voice to the MEPs who have spoken in favour of simplifying the MFF procedure, saying she "could not agree with this more".

She adds that an analysis of the way regional development money has been spent in the past has suggested that it has produced economic growth and increases in spending power in poorer regions.

Kristalina Georgieva
BBC

What is the MFF?

The EU's long-term budget - known as the Multiannual Financial Framework - sets out what the bloc can spend in different areas over several financial years.

The current MFF runs between 2014 and 2020.

Following fraught negotiations between the member states, negotiations for the current multiannual budget

resulted in first-ever real-terms cut in budget spending, with leaders such as David Cameron and others arguing that spending cuts in member states must be matched by similar reductions in spending on the EU institutions.

Euro coins
Reuters

Reform needed?

Belgian Liberal Jean Arthuis, who chairs the Parliament's Budgets Committee, says he deplores the current EU budgetary mechanisms, whose "cumbersome" nature he blames for the late negotiation.

He says the bloc must revise its practices, particularly to simplify the MFF process, lest the process end up a "bureaucratic and technocratic behemoth".

Jean Arthuis
BBC

UKIP view

UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott says that the party will be voting against the changes, arguing that the money would be more effectively spent if returned to member states.

"Not everyone agrees that the answer to every question has to be, 'more Europe'," he adds.

On the broader point of EU regional development funds, he says the money is generally better spend by national governments that "actually understand what is going on on the ground in those countries".

Jonathan Arnott
BBC

May deadline

Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva praises the Parliament's Budgets Committee for preparing their report quickly - especially seeing as there is a May deadline for approving the MFF changes.

She also tells the chamber that the Commission has already committed to a "mid-term" review of the MFF, to look at how the budget is drawn up.

Kristalina Georgieva
BBC

What's Parliament's position?

The decision by the member states has been examined by two MEPs, known as "co-rapporteurs" - in this case, French Socialist Isabelle Thomas, who opened the debate and Poland's Jan Olbrycht from the centre-right EPP group.

Both are members of the Parliament's Budgets Committee.

Their

report recommends that MEPs endorse Commission's plans at the vote today.