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Summary

  1. The sitting began with a debate on anti-tax avoidance measures announced by the EU Commission in January.
  2. After this, they debated and approved legislation that would delay implementation of new EU banking rules - known as MiFID II - for the financial sector by one year.
  3. After the lunchtime voting session, the afternoon sitting began with a debate on a proposed EU migration policy with African and Middle Eastern countries.
  4. MEPs also debated a revision to the "blue card" migration scheme, and an EU co-operation agreement with the Philippines that faces a ratification vote on Wednesday.
  5. In the evening, they also discussed what involvement EU states had in facilitating alleged human rights abuses by the CIA, and the future of EU space policy.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight - and join us tomorrow...

European Parliament

Strasbourg

And with that, the final debate comes to an end and that's it from the European Parliament tonight. 

MEPs will be back tomorrow morning at 08.00 BST, when they will debate a mid-term review of the EU's flagship investment plan.

They will then discuss whether to sign off on EU proposals to lend €500m to Tunisia to supplement loans from the IMF.

Before the voting session begins at 11.30 BST, MEPs will hear a speech from Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.

After lunch, they will debate the sharing of information between EU security authorities, EU action against Chinese steel dumping and the state of democracy in Turkey. 

Commissioner: Europe's competitors 'moving fast'

Debate on EU space policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska tells MEPs that the EU's competitors are "moving fast", and pledges that the Commission will adopt an "inclusive" attitude to developing its new space strategy. 

She says that EU countries have put 14 satellites in orbit, and will be launching a further four in November. 

She adds that the Commission is also looking into the opportunities afforded by space technology to the EU's security and maritime policies. 

Elzbieta Bienkowska
BBC

The EU and space policy

Debate on EU space policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

There has been a big increase in recent years in the number of countries using space technology for a variety of scientific, communication and military purposes.

At the moment, France is the only EU country to have a launching capability, although over 60 states and other organisations have space-faring abilities.

The EU-funded Galileo global satellite navigation system is expected to start operating by the end of this year and to reach its full operational capacity in 2019.

Another EU-funded project, called Copernicus, comprises satellites and infrastructure to monitor land, seas and the earth’s atmosphere.

The increasing number of countries with a space presence has led to discussions at an international level about rules governing behaviour in outer space. 

Space conference
EPA

Debate on EU space policy begins

Debate on EU space policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the alleged involvement of EU states in the CIA’s terror suspect rendition programme finished. MEPs will set out their views in a non-binding motion vote tomorrow.

Finally tonight, they have been joined by Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska to debate moves to form an EU policy for activities in outer space.

The Commission announced a public consultation into such a possibility in April, and has pledged to submit initial proposals by the end of this year.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on a non-binding motion from the Foreign Affairs Committee setting out a number of recommendations for what should be included in the policy.

They will also vote on a separate motion which recommends that space policy should become a greater part of the EU’s common security and defence policy. 

Galileo takeoff
EPA

Liberal MEP: States 'going out of their way' to thwart investigations

Debate on CIA renditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch Liberal Sophia in't Veld says that national governments are "going out of their way to frustrate judicial investigations" into the renditions process. 

She says that it is an "absolute bloody shame" that MEPs are still discussing the issue nearly ten years on from their initial inquiry into the subject. 

She says that it makes no sense to block an EU investigation on the grounds that this is an area of national sovereignty, given that state made a collective decision to allow CIA flights into EU airspace.

She says that governments are "hiding behind legalistic arguments". 

Sophia in't Veld
BBC

Background to the CIA ‘black sites’

Debate on CIA renditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

A total of 12 European countries – including the UK – have been accused of passive or active involvement with the CIA’s renditions programme launched after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

This alleged complicity ranges from allowing transit in national airspace for rendition flights, to providing intelligence to the CIA leading to the capture of suspects elsewhere.

Poland, Romania and Lithuania have also been reported as hosting CIA secret prisons – known as “black sites” – on their territory.

The alleged co-operation of EU states in the programme has been the subject of several European Parliament resolutions, and an inquiry from the Civil Liberties Committee. 

National investigations are underway in the UK, Poland, Lithuania and Italy as to what involvement governments had in arranging the transfer and imprisonment of terror suspects.

Aleksander Kwasniewski
EPA
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has acknowledged his country let the CIA run a secret prison on its territory

Commissioner repeats need for national investigations

Debate on CIA renditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova tells MEPs that the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights only applies to national governments insofar as they are implementing EU law. 

She adds that national security is "outside the remit of the Commission", and that the EU executive does not have the power to launch its own investigations into governments in this area. 

However, she says the Commission has "consistently" stressed the need for EU countries to conduct their own independent investigations to establish the facts. 

She adds that such investigations could eventually lead to the granting of compensation to any victims. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

Dutch minister 'ashamed' of transfers history

Debate on CIA renditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders says there is a "solid judicial framework" in place for seeking redress from a national governments for their involvement in facilitating the transport of prisoners. 

He adds that the practice has also been condemned in cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

He saying that "what has happened with renditions may never happen again", adding that he is "ashamed" such transfers took place on European soil. 

Bert Koenders
BBC

MEPs begin debate on CIA renditions

Debate on CIA renditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about the EU’s proposed partnership agreement with the Philippines finished. MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to give final ratification to the deal.

They have now been joined by Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova and Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders to debate what involvement EU states had in facilitating alleged human rights abuses by the CIA.

The allegations relate to interrogation techniques used by US security services between 2001 and 2006 at “secret prisons” situated in a number of EU states.

Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has tabled an oral question to ask the Commission for an update on whether any member states have broken EU asylum rules as part of their collaboration.

MEPs will also set out their position on ongoing investigations into the matter in a non-binding motion to be put to a vote tomorrow. 

MEPs begin debate on EU-Philippines agreement

Debate on EU-Philippines agreement

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the situation in Bangladesh finished. MEPs are now debating a co-operation agreement that the EU initially signed with the Philippines in July 2012.

The EU has since started negotiations for a free trade agreement with the country, which began at the end of last year.

The agreement contains a number of provisions to strengthen economic co-operation, as well as boosting co-operation over counter-terrorism, energy and organised crime.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to ratify the agreement – which must be done before it can come into force.

They will also vote on a non-binding motion urging the Philippines government to boost transparency as a means of increasing investment, and expressing concern about “severe human rights violations” by the Philippine military in counter-terror operations. 

Makati
EPA
The city of Makati hosts the country's main financial district

EU 'could have been more vocal' on Bangladesh - MEP

Debate on Bangladesh

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Charles Tannock
BBC

Conservative Charles Tannock says freedom of speech and religious tolerance in the country are threatened "not by the government" but by Islamists.

Nevertheless, Dutch Liberal Marietje Schaake says that "concerns remain that more could have been done" by the government to protect people from attacks. 

She adds that the response of the security forces to killings, however, has also been disproportionate.

She tells MEPs that it is "disappointing" that the EU has not "been more vocal" on this issue. 

Dutch foreign minister: Worrying political situation could hamper development

Debate on Bangladesh

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders tells MEPs that the security situation in Bangladesh has "steadily deteriorated" since boycotted elections in January 2014.  

He adds there is a need for a "new social and political consensus" in the country - and greater respect for freedom of speech. 

He adds that the "worrying" political situation could be detrimental to the country's achievements in poverty reduction in recent years, in which EU development funding has played a part. 

Bert Koenders
BBC

Bangladesh Hindu priest murdered by militants

A Hindu priest has been killed in Bangladesh, in the latest attack by Islamist militants.

The body of Ananda Gopal Ganguly, 70, was found in a field near his temple in western Jhenaidah district. His head had been nearly severed from his neck.

Separately, police have killed three suspected Islamists in a crackdown on extremists blamed for the murders.

Critics say the government is in denial about the killings, most of which have been blamed on or claimed by Islamists.

Read more here

Wife of Ananda Gopal Ganguly
EPA

MEPs begin debate on Bangladesh

Debate on Bangladesh

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the EU Commission’s latest proposals to boost work-related skills finished.

MEPs have now been joined by Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders to debate the political situation in Bangladesh.

He will make opening and closing speeches on behalf of EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

The country has seen a series of murders of religious minorities, secular activists and academics in recent months.

More than 20 people have been killed in attacks by suspected Islamists in the past three years - with a Hindu priest in western Jhenaidah district the latest victim of the violence. 

The killings have been blamed on various hardline groups, including so-called Islamic State and Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladeshi militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda. 

Protests in Bangladesh
AFP/GETTY
The killing of a university professor sparked protests last month

Training 'does not simply solve' jobs crisis

Left-wing GUE group tweets:

MEP urges 'digital literacy'

Debate on EU Skills Agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Deirdre Clune
BBC

Irish Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune says the skills shortage in Europe is an issue that the EU "really needs to address".

She adds, however, that any strategy must involve industry and employers to determine the skills that are promoted. 

Romanian centre-right MEP Siegfried Muresan picks up on the need to prepare young people for the jobs of the future by improving digital skills. 

He says that "digital literacy" should become a "core skill" acquired from an early age.  

Italian MEP: EU 'does not protect' workers' rights

Debate on EU Skills Agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Laura Agea
BBC

Laura Agea, an MEP from Italy's Five Star Movement, says the net effect of the Commission's drive to boost labour mobility has been a "brain drain from the south to the north". 

She adds that the EU lack a "proper mechanism to protect workers' rights". 

Parliament's youngest MEP, German Green MEP Terry Reintke, says that the skills initiative will only work if it is produced "in support of existing education systems". 

She also calls for investment programmes to "actually create" the jobs for which young people are trained. 

Commissioner promises skills boost

Debate on EU Skills Agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says that 40% of companies in the EU say they have trouble finding recruits with the right skills. 

She adds that Europe also faces the problem of lower employment rates for women, despite their higher rates of graduation.

She says that the Commission's proposal will contain proposals to make it easier for skills qualifications to be compared "across borders and sectors". 

She adds that it will also contain an EU-wide protocol for assessing the skills of immigrants from non-EU countries.  

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

MEPs begin debate on skills initiative

Debate on EU Skills Agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about the Commission’s new immigrant integration strategy and revision of the blue card migration application scheme finished.

MEPs are now debating the Commission’s latest proposal to boost work-related skills, which it is also announcing today. 

New v. Old

European Commission tweets:

EU states 'will pay the cost' for lack of integration - Labour MEP

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Claude Moraes
BBC
Claude Moraes chairs the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee

Labour MEP Claude Moraes says EU countries will "pay the cost" if they do not adopt policies to integrate those who arrive from outside the bloc. 

UKIP's Jonathan Arnott says that if the words "European Union" were removed from the Commissioner's speech he would agree with much of it. 

He says that the substance of what he said implies that he thinks migration is "skills-based" and controlled - but that he thinks the UK should be able to apply this logic to EU and non-EU countries in a similar manner. 

Current blue card scheme 'still unknown' - Commissioner

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says the current blue card system - which was only launched seven years ago - is still "unattractive, unknown and fragmented".

He says that under the proposals announced today, it would be easier for highly skilled immigrants to qualify under the scheme. 

He adds that EU states should not seek to "fight the reality" that in the coming years, the population of Europe will become more diverse - but should find ways to turn it to their advantage. 

He calls on MEPs to support the Commission's proposals when they get to vote on them. 

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

MEPs begin debate on 'blue card' migration scheme

Debate on EU migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the Commission’s new migration policy for countries in the Middle East and Africa finished.

MEPs are now debating two other proposals announced by the Commission today: a revision of the “blue card” system for highly-skilled immigrants from outside the EU, and a scheme to help integrate non-EU immigrants.

The blue card is effectively a work permit that allowed skilled immigrants from non-EU countries to work in the bloc. It does not apply to the UK, Ireland or Denmark, who have chosen not to take part.

Under the proposals announced today, “parallel national schemes” for groups eligible for the blue card scheme would be dropped – and eligibility for the scheme would be extended to legal refugees with the right to work who meet the skills criteria. 

Member states would retain their rights under the EU’s treaties to determine the number of non-EU immigrants that they accept. 

Timmermans: EU left Greece and Italy 'alone' with migration problems

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Summing up the debate, Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans tells MEPs that the "only sustainable way" to sort out the problem of migration is to find a solution at European level. 

He adds that this must include making a "clear distinction" between those who deserve international protection and those coming to Europe to seek economic opportunities. 

He admits, however, that EU countries have not been good enough at making this distinction in the past - and that Greece and Italy were "left alone with a problem" for "too many years". 

He asks MEPs to remember that they are "talking about human beings" not "numbers or objects".  

Frans Timmermans
BBC

EU fund needs 'genuine new money' - Labour MEP

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Labour MEP Richard Howitt says it is important that the measures announced today contain "genuine new money".

He adds that a previous aid scheme, a proposed "Emergency Trust Fund" for Africa, promised €1.8bn in total funding but has only attracted €80m from member states. 

He also says that the Commission should consider an idea suggested in April by Italy for EU "migration bonds" to fund migration management measures in the member states. 

It has been reported, however, that Germany is opposed to the idea of debt mutualisation. 

Richard Howitt
BBC

Green MEP questions EU's 'value-driven' external policy

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ska Keller
BBC

German Green MEP Ska Keller says that the aid given to the partnership countries in the Middle East and Africa is not being made conditional on pledges to improve human rights. 

She adds that the latest proposal makes her wonder "what is left of our value-driven foreign policy" in the European Union. 

UKIP defence spokesman Mike Hookem, however, says that "not one penny" of UK taxpayers' money should go towards funding the new pledges. 

He adds that the UK is facing its own "invasion of migrants" in the south of England, and that "turning boats back" will be the only solution to lowering the number of new arrivals. 

Conservative MEP: 'No excuse' for asking states for more money

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Conservative MEP Geoffrey van Orden says that he is concerned about the EU offering visa-free travel rights to the Schengen area as part of any migration partnership agreements. 

He says there is evidence to suggest "many people" enter the Schengen area illegally and then go on to overstay.

He also says he rejects the idea that national governments should have to make increased contributions to the aid programmes, telling MEPs that this should be found from "elsewhere" within the EU's budget. 

"There is no excuse for trying to call for more money from member states," he adds. 

Geoffrey van Orden
BBC

Agreements 'must not replicate' Turkey deal - MEP

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister who leads the Liberal ALDE group, says he will not be able to support the plans announced today if they "simply replicate" the EU's existing deal with Turkey.

Brandishing a report from rights group Amnesty International, he says such a replication is "certainly not the solution" for refugees heading to Europe, who have faced "awful conditions" under the Turkey plan.

Instead, he says the EU needs to foster "real partnership" with African countries, paving the way to opening reception centres to screen refugees before they attempt dangerous crossings. 

Italian left-wing MEP Barbara Spinelli also criticises the Turkey deal, which she describes as "shameful". 

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Pitella: EU 'myopic' on Africa challenges

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The leader of the Socialist and Democrat group, Italian MEP Gianni Pitella says the EU may have been "myopic" with its regard to Africa, given the number of shared challenges it faces with Europe. 

He says the change in approach announced today can be attributed to the European Commission, but also to the Italian government - which suggested its own plan for "migration compacts" in April.

He adds that the extra €500m the Commission is committing today from its aid reserve fund is as much as could be realistically expected, and it is "up to member states" to increase the total. 

He says this initial funding will be needed to get the ball rolling on investment, because there are no less risky, "triple A projects" in Africa that would otherwise court private financing. 

Gianni Pitella
BBC

Commissioner pledges 'Copernican revolution' in aid approach

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says that mass migration is a "global problem" that requires a "global approach". 

She says that the new external investment fund outlined by the Commission today should mark a "Copernican revolution" in the way that the EU executive approaches aid policy. 

She adds the Commission will be seeking to "learn the lessons" from the EU's flagship investment plan launched in 2014 - which MEPs will be debating tomorrow morning. 

Federica Mogherini
BBC

EU to use 'positive and negative incentives' in migration policy

Debate on the EU's migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans kicks off the debate by telling MEPs that people are still drowning in the southern Mediterranean, despite a fall in those coming to Europe from the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean sea. 

"We cannot tolerate this, and we must do everything we can to stop it," he adds. 

He says the Commission plans to use "positive and negative incentives" to obtain a greater degree of co-operation on the migration issue from countries in the Middle East and in Africa. 

Frans Timmermans
BBC

Debate on EU Africa aid scheme to begin shortly

Debate on the EU's Africa migration policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Hello and welcome back, to coverage of this afternoon’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

MEPs will shortly be joined by deputy Commission chief Frans Timmermans and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to debate a new EU aid plan announced this afternoon to curb the influx of migrants from a number countries in the Middle East and Africa.

The deal is aiming to reduce migration numbers on the central Mediterranean route, which have remained similar to the levels experienced last year.

The plans foresee using EU aid as a means to encourage private investment in countries such as Jordan, Libya and Ethiopia, in return for greater co-operation over migrant returns. 

Migrants in Tripoli
AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Migrants in Tripoli: Many Africans are fleeing chaos and violence in Libya

MEPs making short speeches

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With today's voting session having ending, MEPs are now making short speeches to explain how they voted.

The session will resume at 14.00 BST, when MEPs will debate the Commission’s latest proposals to tackle the root causes of migration to Europe from Africa. 

MEPs approve delay to MiFID II banking rules

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs do indeed approve a one-year delay to the entry into force of EU trading rules for the financial sector known as ‘MiFid II’, proposed by the EU Commission in February.

The rules were supposed to come into force in January next year – but EU and national regulators have said their IT systems are not ready to cope with the change. 

MEPs ratify anti-counterfeiting treaty for cigarettes

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs first vote by 608 to 11 to ratify the EU’s accession to an anti-cigarette smuggling treaty proposed by the World Health Organisation.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control aims to set up a global tracking and tracing system to allow authorities to stop the sale and circulation of illegal cigarettes. 

The EU signed up to the treaty in late 2013 – it must be ratified by at least 40 parties before it can come into force. 

Cigarettes
AP

Debate finished - votes coming shortly...

That’s the debate on the proposed delay to the MiFid II financial regulations finished. MEPs will vote on whether to approve the delay during today’s voting session, which will begin shortly.

Gualtieri: Delay 'will bring stability and certainty'

Debate on MiFID II financial rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Roberto Gualtieri
BBC

Italian social democrat Roberto Gualtieri gives his support to the delay, adding that the "important agreement" to defer application of the new rules will bring "stability and certainty" to regulators. 

He is the chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee - which has already given its backing to the delay ahead of the final vote this lunchtime. 

French National MEP Nicholas Bay, however, says the delay amounts to "giving extra time" to banks which "abused the naivety of consumers" during the 2008 financial crisis. 

"In any case, you shouldn't make promises that you can't keep," he adds. 

'Vital we get things right' - Labour MEP

Debate on MiFID II financial rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds says that it has "proved difficult" to enact the necessary technical work required to put in place the "incredibly ambitious" legislative changes. 

She adds that she will support the request to delay the roll-out of the legislation, because it is "vital that we get things right". 

However, she warns that MEPs will not support any further delay - and says it is "not an invitation" for similar deferrals in the future. 

Anneliese Dodds
BBC

Lord Hill: 'Common sense' to delay rules

Debate on MiFID II financial rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

UK Commissioner Lord Hill, whose brief includes responsibility over financial regulation, tells MEPs that the proposed changes to the MiFID regulations "was always going to be an ambitious reform".

He says that the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) "rightly" judged that more time was needed to prepare for the introduction of the changes, and says the request for a delay was a "common sense proposal". 

He says he is glad for the European Parliament's support in this area, and for not using the delay as an opportunity to redraw the fundamental principle of the legislation. 

However, he says he believes that the "technical amendments" proposed by MEPs will "improve the quality of the rules". 

Lord Hill
BBC