Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Parliament President Martin Schulz opened the sitting with a speech to mark Europe Day.
  2. After this, MEPs debated support for small businesses and mountainous regions in the EU's cohesion policy.
  3. They then debated a controversial proposed extension to the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which runs between Russia and Germany.
  4. In the evening they discussed a motion calling for a clearer system for labelling the origin of fish in restaurants.
  5. They also debated whether to renew a wide-ranging fisheries agreement between the EU and Mauritania, and approve the EU’s first-ever fishing deal with Liberia.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's it for our coverage of the European Parliament this evening. 

MEPs will be back from 08.00 BST tomorrow, when they will begin the sitting by debating whether the EU should grant market economy status to China.

After a debate on youth unemployment, the day's voting session will begin at 11.00 BST.

After lunch, the afternoon session begins with a debate on yesterday's meeting of eurozone finance ministers, over further cuts demanded of Greece to unlock funds from its EU-IMF bailout.

MEPs will also debate preparations for this month’s World Humanitarian Summit and the state of EU trade negotiations with the Mercosur bloc of Latin American countries.

In the evening, they will also discuss the continuing economic and political crisis in Venezuela.  

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.

Commissioner predicts 'strong support' for deals

Debate on EU fisheries agreements

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella again outlines his support for the deals, calling them "significant steps forward". 

He says he is confident that both are "strongly supported in this house". 

Karmenu Vella
BBC

UKIP MEP: Fisheries agreements are 'Euro-colonialism'

Debate on EU fisheries agreements

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Linnea Engstrom
BBC

Swedish Green MEP Linnea Engstrom says the agreement with Liberia is a "good agreement in many respects", and says there will be greater transparency requirements on the fishing deals struck. 

UKIP MEP David Coburn, however, says EU fisheries agreements are a "form of Euro-colonialism", that amount to "plundering the fish from other people's water". 

He says the financial contributions given to countries in return for implementing the deals are "conscience money". 

Commissioner backs deals

Debate on EU fisheries agreements

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella kicks off the debate by telling MEPs that the agreement with Liberia "is not one of the largest" the EU has struck but is still "significant" in that it will extend EU fisheries activity into West African waters. 

He says the agreement shows a "strong signal that Liberia is open for business". 

He says the agreement with Mauritania is a "significant improvement" on previous agreements with the country.  

Karmenu Vella
BBC

MEPs urge support for agreement votes

Debate on EU fisheries agreements

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish centre-right MEP Jaroslaw Walesa - who has acted as Parliament's lead MEP on the Liberia agreement - says that the deal also hopes to promote a "sustainable fisheries policy", and says he hopes his colleagues will back it at the vote tomorrow. 

Spanish centre-right MEP Gabriel Mato - who has played the same role on the Mauritania deal - says its four-year extension "is greatly welcome". 

He adds that a joint commission will propose improvements to the agreement at the end of this month. 

Gabriel Mato
BBC

MEPs begin debate on fisheries agreements

Debate on EU fisheries agreements

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Next, MEPs are debating whether to approve the renewal of a wide-ranging fisheries agreement between the EU and Mauritania, and the EU’s first-ever fishing deal with Liberia.

The agreements will see the two countries grant access to fishing vessels from EU states, in return for “financial contributions” from the 28-nation bloc.

Both agreements have been applied provisionally since the end of last year, but require ratification from the European Parliament before they can fully come into effect.

The Fisheries Committee has recommended that both agreements are approved.

However, the deal with Mauritania has been criticised for a requirement that all EU vessels must land their catches in the country’s ports, which some have argued may have an adverse effect on employment in the Canary Islands port of Las Palmas. 

Fishing boat
BBC

MEPs begin debate on fish labelling report

Debate on fish labelling

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about a planned extension to the Nord Stream gas pipeline finished – MEPs are now debating a motion calling for a clearer system for labelling the origin of fish.

It comes after an environmental group published a report based on DNA sampling which showed that around a third of fish sold in Brussels restaurants was mislabelled.

The group’s survey was based on samples from 150 restaurants in the Belgian capital, including the restaurants of the European Commission and European Parliament.

The Fisheries Committee has tabled an oral question asking the Commission to explain this, saying that cases of mislabelling could undermine consumer confidence in European fisheries. 

Plate of food
BBC

Commissioner: Deal 'will increase dominance' of Gazprom in Western Europe

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Replying for the Commission, Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete tells MEPs that after the Paris climate agreement, the EU is "on a path" to decarbonising its economy. 

However, he says it is evident that this will "take some time" and in the meanwhile the "cleanest fossil fuel" is gas.

He says that "it is clear" that the deal will "further increase the dominance of Gazprom in the Western European gas market". 

He says the Commission is in contact with German regulators as part of its attempt to assess the impact of the project. 

He says he agrees that any energy project must be "fully aligned" with the EU's energy objectives. 

Miguel Arias Canete
BBC

More criticism of line extension

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jeppe Kofod
BBC

The tone of the debate continues, with Danish social democrat Jeppe Kofod branding the scheme "unnecessary, unwanted and dangerous". 

He says an extension to the line is not necessary, adding that the current maximum capacity of the existing pipeline is "nowhere near fully utilised". 

There's some support from Austrian nationalist Barbara Kappel, who says the project is being back by a "highly respectable consortium" and could boost the supply of energy to Europe. 

Extension 'goes against' EU energy aims

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

There's more criticism from a Polish MEP, with Conservative Zdzislaw Krasnodebski saying that the deal could end up depriving Ukraine of around €2bn in gas pipeline transit fees. 

Swedish Green Peter Erikson says the EU Commission's has a "very important vision" - known as the energy union - to promote greater use of domestic energy in Europe rather than some countries being "totally dependent on energy imports".

He adds, however, that the planned extension to Nord Stream "goes against every single big idea in the Commission's vision". 

Peter Erikson
BBC

Background to ‘Nord Stream II’

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The consortium behind the project includes a number of European energy companies – including Eon, BASF and Shell – as well as state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The pipeline will allow Russia to pipe gas into Germany whilst bypassing Ukraine, which critics have said will deprive the cash-strapped country of pipeline transit fees.

However, supporters of the extension have said it will reduce gas prices in Eastern Europe, and should enjoy a different legal status from the South Stream project which collapsed in 2014.

South Stream – which would have run to Europe via the Black Sea – was abandoned after the European Commission ruled it may break EU competition rules. 

Pipeline extension 'poses threat to European solidarity' - MEP

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jerzy Buzek
BBC

Polish centre-right MEP - and ex-Parliament President - Jerzy Buzek says the deal poses a "threat to European solidarity". 

He adds the extension "runs counter to the principle of diversity in supply of gas". 

Italian social democrat Flavio Zanonato makes a similar point, telling MEPs that the increased capacity on the pipeline will give Gazprom a "dominant market position".

Commissioner: deal 'has to fully comply' with EU law

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete tells MEPs that he understands there are "legal, geopolitical and economic" concerns about the extension among Central and Eastern European states. 

He says the deal has the potential to "alter the landscape" of the European gas market, and will be examined by the Commission. 

He says he would like to repeat that the project will only go ahead if it "fully complies" with the "applicable European Union law".

At the same time, he says the European Commission has provided "strong support" to such countries in helping them to diversify their sources of energy. 

He says it is in the interest of Central and Eastern European countries that Ukraine "remains a successful gas transit corridor". 

Miguel Arias Canete
BBC

MEPs begin debate on Nord Stream pipeline

Debate on Nord Stream pipeline extension

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debates on EU Cohesion Policy finished – MEPs will vote on their motions tomorrow.

Next they are debating plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea with Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. 

Last December, MEPs passed a motion expressing concern that the proposal could undermine the EU’s attempts to reduce the dependency of the bloc on Russian energy imports.

A number of EU countries have also set out their opposition to the extension in a letter to the Commission, which is due to assess whether the project complies with EU law.

Last week, Manfred Weber – who heads the largest EPP group – wrote to Mr Canete setting out his opposition to the plan. 

Gazprom sign
EPA
Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom is part of a consortium behind the extension

Commissioner sets out EU cohesion support

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Replying for the Commission, Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella says that improvements have been made to the way EU cohesion funds are allocated. 

He says "new territorial tools" have been added to the current 2014-2020 period, with national governments obliged to set out an "integrated approach" for geographically handicapped regions. 

He adds that the newly-created structural reform support service produced by the Commission will help nation states with such a task. 

Karmenu Vella
BBC

West Midlands has 'valleys of despair' - MEP

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge says they "don't have many mountains" in his West Midlands regional constituency but "mountains of debt" and "valleys of despair" due to economic hardship. 

He says his constituents can "thank the EU and its cohesion policy for much of it", adding that the region has been "subjected to mass immigration" which puts pressure on school places. 

Bill Etheridge
BBC

Governments 'shouldn't be afraid' of local control

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Matthijs Van Miltenburg
BBC

Dutch Liberal Matthijs Van Miltenburg says that national governments should "trust local partners" in their implementation of cohesion policy, and "shouldn't be afraid" of devolving control over projects to more local areas of government. 

From the Five Star Movement, Italian MEP Isabella Adinolfi says her group agree that mountainous regions should be "recognised as deserving special care" due to their natural handicaps.

However, she says, they object to this criterion being included in the investment plan launched by the EU Commission towards the end of 2014.  

MEP calls for 'better training' on cohesion funds

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Constanze Krehl
BBC

German social democrat Constanze Krehl says that "better training" for those applying for and disbursing cohesion funds may make the policy "more user-friendly".

Croatian Liberal Ivan Jakovcic says that the local population of mountainous regions "really do get involved" in the implementation of development projects. 

They deserve "more effective and efficient procedures", he adds, to allow them to get access to funding. 

Commissioner: 'Long tradition' of special support for regions

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the Commission, Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella tells MEPs that there is already a "long tradition" within EU cohesion policy for providing extra support to regions with "specific geographical features". 

He adds that it is important to "make the most" of existing tools in this area when it comes to allocating and financing development projects. 

Karmenu Vella
BBC

Mountainous areas 'more susceptible to climate change'

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Bulgarian Socialist Iliana Iotova tells MEPs that a "European definition" of mountainous regions would help to improve the application of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. 

She says that the economic position of these regions is "very particular", and that they are more "susceptible to climate change", although the regions also offer a number of development opportunities. 

She adds that it will also be difficult to help small businesses in the regions or develop the local economy without improvements to internet provision. 

Iliana Iotova
BBC

Debate on 'cohesion' spending begins

Debate on EU cohesion policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the week’s agenda approved, MEPs are now debating the EU’s “cohesion policy” – various investment schemes designed to reduce economic differences between different regions in the EU.

Cohesion policy spending comes from three main funds, and accounts for around a third of the EU’s budget.

Tomorrow, MEPs will vote on a non-binding motion stating that increasing funding for smaller businesses should be a priority for two of the EU’s “territorial development strategies”.

They will also vote on a motion advocating the creation of an EU development strategy for mountainous regions – where the economy is often dominated by the farming and services sectors. 

MEPs add debate on Turkish visa travel pledge

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the left-wing GUE group, Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli requests a debate on Wednesday about progress made by Turkey to fulfill the criteria required before the EU can grant its citizens the right to travel to the Schengen zone without a visa.

The pledge to work towards granting Turkish citizens this right was included in the EU's recent migration deal struck last month. 

The proposal is approved by 181 votes to 92 - meaning the debate will be added to the afternoon's agenda and Wednesday's sitting will be extended by one hour. 

Barbara Spinelli
BBC

President's address

Parliamentary service tweets

EU facing 'decisive litmus test' - Schulz

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Making his own speech to mark Europe Day, Parliament President Martin Schulz says that the EU is currently facing a "decisive litmus test".

He tells MEPs that at a recent event, he was asked by the Pope what had happened to the "Europe of humanism" - and adds that the "founding values of Europe need to be rediscovered". 

He asks members to be "courageous" in "taking Europe in the right direction". 

Martin Schulz
BBC

In harmony...

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The sitting is beginning in a somewhat unusual fashion, with an orchestra serenading MEPs to mark Europe Day – an event to mark the presentation of the 'Schuman declaration' on 9 May 1950.

During the speech in Paris, French foreign minister Robert Schuman outlined his idea for greater political integration in Europe, including the European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to the modern-day European Union. 

Orchestra
BBC

Good afternoon

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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.