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Summary

  1. MEPs opened the session with a short debate on the situation of Roma people in the EU, to mark last week's International Roma Day.
  2. This was followed by a debate on a motion which proposes giving national parliaments a bigger role in scrutinising EU rules.
  3. After a change in the day's agenda, MEPs then debated Wednesday's vote on a non-binding motion calling on the European Commission not to renew the market authorisation for glyphosate.
  4. The evening saw short debates on eight "own initiative" motions on topics including single market rules and the teaching of the EU in schools, and a round of short topical speeches.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

And, with the speeches having come to an end, that's it from the European Parliament this evening. 

MEPs will be back tomorrow at 07.30 BST, when they will debate a motion setting out MEPs' view of how the migration crisis should be tackled.

The non-binding motion will be put to the vote at lunchtime, following a debate on how the EU can help farmers coping with falling prices.

After lunch, MEPs will debate last month's terror attacks in Brussels, the Panama Papers leaks and the Commission's latest plans to boost the tax transparency of multinationals.

They will also debate the future of the EU's common defence policy, the resurgence of violence in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the EU's political and cooperation agreement with Cuba.

The evening will also see a debate on a motion from the Foreign Affairs Committee about the EU’s Central Asia Strategy. 

Short speeches begin

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Finally this evening, there will be a round of short one-minute speeches from backbench MEPs.

This item of business, traditionally held during the Monday plenary sitting, is normally used by MEPs to make points about topical issues or stories of interest to their country or region.

MEP outlines call for wider relations in fisheries policy

'Own initiative' motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

And we come to the eighth and final "own initiative" motion to be presented this evening. 

Swedish Green MEP Linnéa Engström’s motion calls for relations with non-EU countries to be borne in mind to a greater extent in the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

She adds that current rules stipulate that stocks should not be over-fished, and contains provisions to protect the rights of fisheries workers. 

Linnéa Engström
BBC

MEP calls on Commission to change fishing definitions

'Own initiative' motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Croatian Conservative Ruža Tomašić’s motion calls on the EU Commission to change the way it defines small-scale coastal and traditional fishing in line with the socio-economic characteristics.

At the moment, such categories – which have an impact on funding and regulation – are based on the dimensions and power of fishing vessels. 

Mr Tomašić says the current framework "stifles development" in the fishing sectors both in Northern and Southern Europe.

Ruža Tomašić
BBC

MEP outlines motion on EU teaching in schools

Own initiative motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Romanian social democrat Damian Drăghici’s motion calls for greater teaching of the “common history and values of the EU” in schools.

The text also says schools should “promote attachment to the fundamental values of the European Union”.

The text cites a 2014 opinion poll which claimed 44 % of people in the EU feel they have only a limited understanding of how the EU works.

It also calls for the EU Commission to undertake research into “how the EU is currently taught in schools across Europe”. 

Damian Drăghici
BBC

MEP: EU institutions should avoid 'over zealous' regulations

Own initiative motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Belgian Conservative Anneleen Van Bossuyt’s motion contains a number of recommendations for how the Commission should improve EU legislation relating to the single market.

It recommends that “careful consideration of scientific advice” should form part of the impact assessments on new EU laws.

It also calls for documents at the EU Council of Ministers – where national ministers deliberate on new laws – to be made public like documents at the European Parliament.

She adds that the time for "crying out for more Europe" is over, and that MEPs need to make sure that there is not "over-zealous regulating". 

Anneleen Van Bossuyt
BBC

MEP outlines motion backing REFIT scheme

Own initiative motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German social democrat Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann’s motion gives general backing to the Commission’s REFIT initiative, which aims to make EU laws more proportionate and effective.

Her text recommends that the EU Commission should take “sunset clauses” into account when making laws during time-limited political initiatives.

It also backs the use of “review clauses” in new legislation – which would force the Commission to “regularly reassess” whether EU-wide law in a particular area is still needed.

She adds that EU citizens "quite justifiably" expect action on new legislation, which is widely seen as carrying too much of a bureaucratic burden. 

Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann
BBC

Short debates on 'own initiative' motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the debate on glyphosate authorisation renewal finished - MEPs will vote on their non-binding motion on Wednesday. 

Next this evening, there will be short presentations of a number of “own initiative” resolutions from the Parliament’s committees that will be put to the vote tomorrow.

These motions - which are not binding on the Commission - are used by MEPs and their committees to state their position on policy areas where legislation may emerge from the EU executive.

They are also used for expressing Parliament’s position on “different aspects of European integration” – meaning quite a broad range of subjects can attract resolutions. 

EPP MEP: We oppose a full ban

Debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Irish Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness says that, whilst she has received lots of emails from lobby organisations opposing renewal, she has also received number of emails from individual farmers explaining "how vital glyphosate is for them".

She says it is "easy to call for a ban" given widespread public concern about chemicals, but there is a need to reflect upon all the evidence first. 

In particular, she adds that it is important to distinguish between studies that have assessed the hazards of the chemical itself, and those which assess the risk in how it is used. 

She tells MEPs that her centre-right EPP group opposes an outright ban, and supports re-registration of the pesticide - although not for the 15 years proposes by the Commission. 

Mairead McGuinness
BBC

MEP outlines Liberal group amendment

Debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch Liberal Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy announces that the Liberal ALDE group has just tabled an amendment to the motion for Wednesday's vote that recommends the Commission should extend the authorisation "for a maximum of five years".

He adds that the amendment foresees that this authorisation can be rescinded if new scientific evidence emerges to suggest that glyphosate is more dangerous "than we thought it was". 

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy
BBC

Commission 'has not exceeded powers'

Debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Representing the Commission again in this debate, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova says that the Commission's proposal to renew the authorisation has been done "in line" with EU rules. 

She adds that, for this reason, the Commission considers that it has not exceeded its implementing powers in this area. 

Decisions on authorisations in the EU are made national experts sitting in the phytopharmaceuticals section of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed.

It can adopt or reject the Commission proposal by qualified majority. If there is no such majority, it is up to the European Commission to decide. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

MEP calls for Commission to apply 'precautionary principle'

Debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Italian centre-right MEP Giovanni La Via, who chairs the Parliament's agriculture committee, says that "different conclusions" have been reached as to the health effects of glyphosate. 

He says that the "precautionary principle" should be applied, and says that the Commission should withdraw its proposal to renew the authorisation. 

Giovanni La Via
BBC

MEPs debate pesticide authorisation

Debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the role of national parliaments in the EU finished – MEPs will vote on the motion tomorrow.

Next, MEPs will debate Wednesday’s motion calling on the European Commission not to renew the market authorisation for glyphosate, a herbicide used in farming, forestry and gardening.

The motion - which will not be binding on the Commission - says that the product should not be used, citing concern about its potential carcinogenic effects.

The health effects of the chemical have been the subject of a dispute among scientists. 

The motion also calls on the Commission to launch an independent review into the way the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed the market use of the chemical.

A debate on the matter was added to today’s agenda at the opening of the session earlier today.

Commissioners 'at the service' of MEPs

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Summing up the debate for the Commission, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova tells MEPs that she found it necessary to visit national parliamentarians to reply personally to their subsidiarity concerns. 

She adds that Commissioners remain "at the service" of MEPs who have concerns about the subsidiarity elements of individual proposals. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

Principles 'constantly breached' in EU policymaking

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German Conservative Bernd Lucke says the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality need "to be properly applied" so they are not "constantly breached".

He says that plans reportedly under way to draw up proposals for a Eurozone-wide common deposit insurance scheme are such an example. 

He adds that the scheme would not be put into force using existing structures and will not reflect the different economic policies of different member states. 

Bernd Lucke
BBC

UKIP MEP brands proportionality rules 'a bit late'

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Swedish Green MEP Max Andersson says that the motion contains a number of recommendations that would push the EU's law-making process "in the right direction". 

However, he says that having assessments before, during and after new laws are passed is simply "too much impact analysis". 

UKIP's Gerard Batten says that subsidiarity is too complicated and ill-defined - noting that at the time of a previous EU treaty negotiation, former Commission President Jacques Delors jokingly offered a reward to those who could define it on one side of paper. 

He adds that the suggestions on proportionality are "a bit late" given the extent of EU law in UK policymaking. 

Gerard Batten
BBC

Recommendations 'would increase bureaucratic burden'

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Luxembourg Socialist Mady Delvaux says that some of the recommendations in the motion would add new stages to the legislative process which would make it "slow and rather difficult" to pass EU laws. 

She adds that this may have the effect of "increasing the bureaucratic burden" on the EU's institutions. 

She asks for MEPs to support amendments to the motion tabled by her Socialist and Democrats group when the motion is voted on tomorrow. 

Mady Delvaux
BBC

Polish MEP calls for deadline extension

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish MEP Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski, from the Law and Justice Party which recently took power in the country, says that the current subsidiarity checks should be "reinforced".

He adds that the deadline for parliaments to issue objections to new EU measures on subsidiarity grounds should be extended from the current period of eight weeks. 

What are subsidiarity and proportionality in the EU?

Subsidiarity is the principle that the EU should not act at an EU-wide level if the issue can be addressed more effectively by national laws.

However, it does not apply to areas where the EU has exclusive rights to legislate, including rules relating to customs union and the internal market.

The existing yellow card procedure gives national parliaments a way to protest if they think the EU Commission is overstepping its remit.

However, it has been little used so far – and critics complain that the procedure is not easy enough to enforce and lacks teeth.

Proportionality is a similar but related concept: it says that the EU should only legislate if it is the only way to achieve its prescribed objectives.

It means, for example, that new EU laws have to undergo “impact assessments” to see whether a problem could be better fixed by alternative means – e.g. increased financial support. 

Yellow card
AFP/Getty Images
Some have argued that the 'yellow card' system should be strengthened

Commissioner: over 270 visits to parliaments since late 2014

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova says that, since taking office in November 2014, current EU Commissioners have made 270 visits to national parliaments. 

She says the visits were made as part of efforts to explain decisions taken by the Commission, and an attempt to "forge a new relationship" with parliaments. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

MEP: UK Parliament 'not the best example' for EU scrutiny

Debate on subsidiarity

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Conservative Sajjad Karim tells MEPs that it is a frequent complaint that the institutions of the EU are seen as doing too much and as too distant. 

He says that national parliaments should be "brought much closer" into the decision-making processes of the EU, but adds that the European Scrutiny Committee in the House of Commons is "not the best example" for others to imitate. 

"I certainly don't recommend that as the way forward," he adds. 

Sajjad Karim
BBC

MEPs debate role of national parliaments

Debate on subsidiarity

That’s the debate on discrimination against Roma people finished – next, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova will remain to discuss the role of national parliaments in how the EU makes law.  

On behalf of the Legal Affairs Committee, Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim has drawn up a motion which proposes giving national parliaments a bigger role in scrutinising EU rules.

The motion is an official response to the European Commission's 2012-13 reports into how well the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (of which more later) are being applied in the EU. 

The motion says that EU laws would be improved by increasing the involvement of national chambers, and the existing but little-used “yellow card” procedure should be made easier to use.

A proposal to replace the measure with a beefed-up “red card” mechanism is included in the UK’s EU renegotiation deal.

It means that 55% of national parliaments would be able to effectively block or veto a proposal for a new law from the European Commission.

MEPs will vote on the motion tomorrow lunchtime. Its recommendations will not be binding on the European Commission or national governments. 

Houses of Parliament
PA

Economic prospects 'the key' to equality

Debate on International Roma Day

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Angelika Mlinar
BBC

Austrian Liberal Angelika Mlinar says that "much more needs to be done" to combat discrimination against Roma people in Europe. 

In particular, she says that improving the job and economic prospects for Roma people in many parts of the EU is "the key to deliver on equality for all". 

MEP condemns 'shame for Europe'

Debate on International Roma Day

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Hungarian centre-right MEP Gyorgy Holvenyi says that more should be done to integrate teaching about the history of Roma people in European education systems.

On behalf of the centre-left Socialist and Democrats group, Swedish MEP Soraya Post says that discrimination against Gypsies is a "shame for Europe" and should be the subject of stronger measures by national governments. 

She adds that the situation in which many Roma find themselves is "absolutely catastrophic", and that they are being "exploited" by far-right groups. 

Soraya Post
BBC
Soraya Post has a Romani background

Commissioner urges 'strong stand' against discrimination

Debate on International Roma Day

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova begins the debate by telling MEPs that stigmatisation against Roma people is rising in Europe, part of a rise in extremism "in general" in the EU. 

She adds that the Commission is determined to take a "strong stand" against discrimination, and has "stepped up" action to ensure anti-discrimination laws are fully applied to Roma people.

She adds that the Commission supports MEPs' action to designate 2 August as an official remembrance day, and encourages EU member states to do the same. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

MEPs begin debate on International Roma Day

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the agenda otherwise approved unchanged, MEPs will move to their first debate of the afternoon, which is about the situation of Roma people in the EU.

The debate with Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is being held to mark International Roma Day, which took place on Friday last week.

Last year, MEPs voted to make 2 August the official Remembrance Day for the Roma genocide in World War II, marking the killing of 2,897 Roma people in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on 2 August 1944. 

MEPs have also called on national governments to strengthen their efforts to combat anti-Roma discrimination, particularly in the provision of education. 

MEPs add debate on glyphosate authorisation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs approve a suggestion from the EPP centre-right group to hold a debate this evening on a motion calling on the European Commission not to renew the market authorisation for glyphosate, a herbicide used in farming, forestry and gardening.

The motion will not be binding on the Commission. 

The debate will take place later this evening, ahead of the vote which is due to take place at Wednesday lunchtime. 

President leads minute's silence for Brussels victims

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Parliament President Martin Schulz opens the session by leading a minute's silence to remember the victims of last month's terror attacks in Brussels which killed 32 people. 

He tells MEPs that the attacks were a "black day for Belgium, and a black day for Europe". 

Minute's silence
BBC

Good afternoon

Hello and welcome to coverage of today’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which will begin shortly.

The sitting will begin with administrative announcements, after which MEPs will have the chance to request additions or changes to this week’s agenda or make points of order.

Proposals to add a debate to the agenda have to be made to the President at least one hour before the sitting opens, and can be tabled by one of the Parliament’s committees, one of its political groups, or a group of 40 MEPs.

In order to be formally added, an item must be approved by a simple majority – and can be done on a show of hands.