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Summary

  1. The sitting began with a debate on a mid-term review of the EU's flagship investment plan.
  2. They then debated and approved EU proposals to lend €500m to Tunisia to supplement loans from the IMF.
  3. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev addressed MEPs before their voting session, at which they voted to set up an inquiry into the Panama Papers leak.
  4. After lunch, they debated the sharing of information between EU security authorities, EU action against Chinese steel dumping and the state of democracy in Turkey.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight - and join us tomorrow...

European Parliament

Strasbourg

And with that, the final debate of today's sitting comes to a close. 

MEPs will be back tomorrow at 08.00 BST with a debate on how the EU could protect Europe's rail supply industry from unfair competition from overseas.

Then follows the traditional final-day debates on human rights motions - which this week will focus on Cambodia, Tajikistan and Vietnam.

After the voting session, MEPs will debate whether the Commission has done enough to keep them informed of negotiations on various international agreements.

MEPs begin final debate

Debate on economic diplomacy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the debate on proposals to improve the efficiency and transparency of EU administration finished. 

MEPs have turned to their final debate of the day, which is on whether the EU can develop a form of "economic diplomacy". 

MEPs debate proposal for administrative reform

Debate on EU administration begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about Japan’s decision to resume its controversial whaling programme finished.

Next tonight, MEPs will debate an oral question from the Legal Affairs Committee which asks the Commission to take another look at its proposal for legislation to create “an open, efficient and independent European Union administration”.

The committee proposed the legislation in January 2013 but so far the EU executive has failed to follow the committee’s suggestions. 

EU states 'do not approve' of Japanese programme

Debate on Japanese whaling expeditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders tells MEPs that governments "do not approve" of Japan's relaunched whaling programme. 

He adds that Japan "failed to present sufficient evidence" as to why the killing of whales is necessary on scientific grounds. 

He says that the Council of Ministers is determined to support the independence scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission based in Bled, Slovenia. 

MEPs begin debate on Japanese whaling

Debate on Japanese whaling expeditions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate over changes to the EU’s trade defence instruments and market economy status for China finished.

MEPs are now debating Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the Antarctic earlier this after a break of more than a year.

The decision comes despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Japan cease all whaling.

The Japanese government its whaling programme is "scientific" and the number of minke whales caught each year will be reduced by two thirds to 333.

MEPs on the Environment Committee have tabled an oral question to the EU Commission which asks whether it is considering “bilateral or multilateral” means to get Japan to stop the practice. 

Minke whale
PA

MEP warns over protectionism danger

Debate on EU trade defence tools

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Marietje Schaake
BBC

Dutch Liberal Marietje Schaake says she agrees with the need for modernisation of trade defence rules but says any agreement must be "balanced", and not target China unfairly. 

She adds that greater protectionism could damage the European economy, and says it is important to remember the role of importers in the economy as well as exporters. 

Austrian social democrat Karoline Graswander-Hainz says that strengthening the EU's trade defence instruments "should be an absolute priority". 

She says updated rules would allow EU states to "react more quickly" to unfair trading practices from countries such as China. 

Background: China and 'market economy status’

Debate on EU trade defence tools

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The debate about defence against unfair trading from China has raged whilst a related debate has just started to heat up over whether China should be granted "market economy status" at the World Trading Organisation (WTO). 

China was not granted market status when it joined the WTO in 2001, but argues that the terms of its membership mean it should automatically get it at the end of this year, when a 15-year clause in its accession agreement is due to end.

Classifying China as a market economy under WTO rules would change the way EU countries calculate whether it has been "dumping" goods - selling them at a loss - on the European market.

The European Commission has not yet come up with its recommended response, although it has said doing nothing may leave EU countries in breach of WTO rules.

Any bid to change China's WTO status would have to win the backing of MEPs, who - along with member states - would have to approve the measure.

The Commission has said it would be "untenable" to classify China as a standard market economy, and is working on a way to apply WTO rules whilst maintaining a "strong trade defence system".

MEPs have already set out their opposition to any EU attempt to "unilaterally" grant China market status, whilst proposing that member status should continue to be able to use "non-standard" methodology in Chinese anti-dumping investigations. 

Chinese flag in Shanghai
AP

Governments 'blocking rational reform' - MEP

Debate on EU trade defence tools

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German social democrat Bernd Lange, who chairs the Parliament's trade committee, says he is "dumbfounded" at the minister's comments that it is too early to speak of a compromise on trade rules. 

He says the delay to an agreement is "shameful", and accuses the governments of "simply blocking rational reform of trade defence instruments". 

He likens the role of the Dutch minister in the EU's rotating presidency role to that of a policeman "trying to catch escaping criminals on a motorboat with a yacht", before adding: 

For goodness' sake, get your foot on the accelerator."

Bernd Lange
BBC

Dutch minister: Governments still divided on reform options

Debate on EU trade defence tools

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders tells MEPs that European governments see the "urgent need for progress" in modernising the EU's current trade defence instruments. 

He says that technical discussions have restarted on Commission proposals to change the instruments first tabled in 2013 that have since become blocked. 

He adds, however, that member states are "still divided" on how the trade policy should be changed - with a possible relaxation of the lesser duty rule proving the "sticking point". 

He says it is "too early to say" which of the ideas suggested by governments and the EU Commission will be accepted. 

Bert Koenders
BBC

Debate on EU-China trade begins

Debate on EU trade defence tools

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on Turkey finished. Next tonight, MEPs are debating EU action against Chinese steel that is “dumped” – sold at a loss – on the European market.

Some MEPs have accused national governments – including the UK – of blocking changes proposed by the European Commission in 2013 to change the EU’s trade defence instruments (TDIs).

A huge increase in the amount of cheap Chinese steel being bought by European manufacturers has been blamed for a decline in the domestic steel industry in a number of EU countries.

MEPs have also stated their opposition to the “unilateral” granting of market economy status to China at the World Trading Organisation (WTO).

Some industrial unions say would make it harder for governments to protect themselves against unfair trading. 

Chinese steel worker
GETTY IMAGES

Green MEP criticises 'entirely undemocratic' immunity changes

Debate on state of Turkish democracy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ska Keller
BBC

German Green Ska Keller says that the EU has made Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "grow stronger" as a result of previous diplomatic mistakes. 

"We have to be clear about the values we are trying to represent", she adds - calling the recent decision to strip MPs of immunity "entirely undemocratic". 

German left-winger Martina Michels says the Parliament should withhold support for the deal to give Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen zone in response to recent developments. 

This element of the deal was agreed by national governments - but can be vetoed by MEPs. 

The original promise was to work towards finalising a deal by the end of this month, but that appears to be slipping amid a dispute over an EU requirement that Turkey should change its terror laws. 

Background to EU-Turkey migration deal

Debate on state of Turkish democracy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Under a migration deal agreed earlier this year, EU countries are sending migrants who have arrived illegally in Greece since late March to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

In exchange for each Syrian migrant returned, the EU is taking another Syrian who has made a legitimate request from Turkey.

The deal has led to a reduction in the number of people migrating to Europe illegally via the eastern Mediterranean, but has been has been criticised by refugee and rights groups. 

There has also been some political opposition to the terms of the deal, which includes a pledge to accelerate the country's bid for visa-free travel to Europe, and €3bn in aid to help look after refugees.

The promise to "re-energise" Turkey's stalled bid to join the European bloc has also become an issue in the UK's EU referendum campaign. 

Turkey migration talks in Brussels
AP
EU leaders struck the deal at a summit in Brussels

Commission 'seriously concerned' by immunity vote

Debate on state of Turkish democracy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commissioner Hahn tells MEPs that the EU Commission is "seriously concerned" about the recent decision to strip all Turkish MPs of their immunity. 

He adds that the EU executive believes immunity "must apply to all on a non-discriminatory basis", with immunity only lifted in "specific cases" according to transparent criteria. 

He pledges that the Commission will be "following the issue very closely". 

On the wider point about the EU's relations with Turkey, he says the bloc has "demonstrated its willingness" to re-energise its relations with the country. 

He adds that the criteria Turkey must fulfill to gain visa-free access to the Schengen area - included in its migration deal with the EU - are "well known" and "have not changed". 

Commissioner Hahn
BBC

MEPs begin debate on Turkish Parliament immunity changes

Debate on state of Turkish democracy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That the debate on EU co-operation over counter-terrorism finished.

Next, MEPs have been joined by EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn to debate the recent approval in the Turkish Parliament of a controversial bill that will strip MPs of their immunity from prosecution.

The measure is seen as targeting the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as well as the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Pro-Kurdish lawmakers say the removal of immunity is a first step to allow attempts to expel opposition members from parliament.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the HDP of being the PKK's political arm, and has called for pro-Kurdish MPs to face terrorism charges. 

Opposition MPs walk out in protest at the changes
Reuters
Some opposition MPs walked out in protest at the changes

States must show 'political will' to share intelligence - MEP

Debate on counter-terror co-operation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sophia in't Veld
BBC

Dutch Liberal Sophia in't Veld, whose ALDE group has long urged EU states to share more intelligence information, says she worries that the proposed roadmap to be discussed on Friday is merely a "technical" change. 

She says such alternations to the legislative environment may mean little if the "political will" to actually share the information is not there. 

UKIP's Jonathan Arnott seeks to reassure his colleagues that a post-Brexit UK would continue to want to share information "in the right way" with "our neighbors and friends across Europe". 

He adds, however, that there are "questions to be asked" about the rights implications of the plans to be developed at EU level.  

Jonathan Arnott
BBC

Commissioner: Information sharing 'remains poor'

Debate on counter-terror co-operation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says that a lack of information sharing is "first among" the weakness of EU states when it comes to fighting terrorism. 

He says that the ability to share intelligence information between EU states is the "strongest example of trust between us", but that implementation of commitments in this area "remains poor". 

He adds however that there are "plenty of tools" already in place to allow this - including the Prüm decisions which allow member states to exchange DNA and fingerprint information. 

He tells MEPs that the Commission will propose measures "in the coming months" to add an ability to share fingerprint information as part of the Schengen Information System

He also discloses that the Commission has set up an expert working group to look into the question of how national intelligence information could be made more "interoperable". 

He says that the group will be meeting for the first time this month, and the Commission hopes to announce new policies in this area next year. 

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

Co-operation 'key topic' of presidency - Dutch minister

Debate on counter-terror co-operation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders tells MEPs that national ministers have stressed the need for co-operation on security matters at a meeting following the Brussels attacks earlier this year. 

He stresses that ministers agree on the need for intelligence to be "interoperable" - ie capable of being used and analysed by more than one authority. 

He adds that this matter has been a "key topic" of the Netherlands' six-month EU presidency, which is due to finish at the end of this month. 

He says that the presidency will be submitting a "roadmap for information exchange" this Friday which will contain "practical short and medium term points" to increase co-operation. 

Bert Koenders
BBC

MEPs debate co-operation on counter-terror matters

Debate on counter-terror co-operation

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the debate on changes to the EU's Civil Service Tribunal finished - the vote to confirm its dissolution will take place tomorrow. 

Next, MEPs will be joined by Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders to debate what more could be done to increase co-operation between the police and national security agencies of EU countries.

A lack of co-operation between services has been blamed for making it harder to stop terror incidents carried out by transnational terror groups. 

MEPs debate tribunal change for EU staff

Debate on EU civil servants' tribunal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on proposals aiming to reduce the administrative burden of submitting documents in another EU country finished.

MEPs are now debating a proposal to dissolve the European Union Civil Service Tribunal – a special court within the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) which examines disputes involving EU civil servants.

The Tribunal is no longer necessary because from this September such cases will automatically be transferred to the ECJ's General Court, where the number of judges is set to increase

Staff at the European Parliament
European Parliament

MEP: Changes should avoid 'ideological' changes

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish centre-right MEP Tadeusz Zwiefka says he would have preferred a wider scope for the legislation, but that EU citizens "will be grateful for anything that makes their lives easier". 

Slovakian Conservatve Branislav Skripek tells MEPs that the ostensibly administrative changes should not be used as a means of forcing "ideological" distinctions on EU member states. 

In particular, he says that the distinction between fathers and mothers "must be respected". 

Branislav Skripek
BBC

Changes 'undermine national security' - UKIP MEP

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

UKIP MEP Diane James says the new rules for documents will "only help people that would threaten us". 

She adds that the new regulations threaten documents that "preserve distinctiveness and act as barriers", and will "further undermine national security". 

She says that the matter of authenticating documents should be "left in the domain of national governments". 

Diane James
BBC

Commissioner: Rule changes 'will cut red tape'

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova tells MEPs that the Commission would have also preferred to see a "broader scope" when it comes to the kind of documents exempted from translation requirements. 

However, she thanks MEPs for their work during the negotiations - calling the text that will be put to the vote tomorrow a "balanced compromise". 

She adds that the new rules will "make the lives of citizens and businesses easier", by reducing "unnecessary and costly red tape". 

She says the text also includes a requirement for an "early" review of the legislation once it has come into force - which could be used to assess whether different kinds of documents could be added. 

Vera Jourova
BBC

MEP: Rules changes 'a small step forward'

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Luxembourg Socialist Mady Delvaux tells MEPs that some of the administrative requirements relating to documents that EU nationals need to fulfill are "rather onerous".

She says the legislation is a "small step forward" in this area by removing the need for an official translation stamp from certain documents. 

She adds, however, that MEPs on the committee had originally wanted a greater number of documents to have been included. 

Mady Delvaux
BBC

What are the proposed changes?

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The measures were first proposed by the European Commission in 2013 as part of a drive to simplify the process of moving country within the EU.

The proposals were amended during talks with national ministers, with proposals to exempt education certificates and certificates of disability ditched from the final text.

However, as MEPs wanted, the new rules will cover documents certifying the absence of a criminal record or required for voting in European Parliament or municipal elections.

The negotiated text is likely to be given final approval at the vote tomorrow, given that it was passed by 18 votes to two when it went through committee stage. 

Documents in filing cabinet
Science Photo Library

Welcome back

Debate on EU document rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

The sitting will be getting underway shortly, when MEPs will be debating proposals aiming to reduce the administrative burden of buying a house, getting married or registering a new residence in different EU country.

The new rules would mean EU citizens would not have to get authenticated copies made of certain public documents – including birth certificates – when they move to another EU state.

The requirement to get official documents “authenticated” can incur large fees, particularly if the documents need to be translated.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to give final approval to a deal on the new rules they reached with national ministers in March. 

Votes finish

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the voting session finished. MEPs will now have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

There will then be a break for lunch, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00.

MEPs oppose renewals of GM authorisations

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also pass two other motions to state their opposition to plans by the European Commission to authorise the use of herbicide-resistant genetically modified (GM) carnations and maize. 

MEPs urge publication of EDC criteria

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs pass another non-binding motion, which calls on the European Commission to quickly publish the scientific criteria by which it could assess the safety of "endocrine disruptor" chemicals (EDCs).

The EU's Court of Justice ruled last year that the Commission had breached EU law by not identifying criteria to assess which EDCs might be harmful.

The Commission recently said it would publish its proposed criteria by the summer.

The chemicals are found in many everyday products, from food and cleaning products to plastic containers and cosmetics.

Some researchers say endocrine disruptors may affect human hormones and cause disease, including certain kinds of cancer. 

ECJ building in Luxembourg
EPA
Judges said the Commission had an 'unconditional obligation' to publish criteria

MEPs back EU loans to Tunisia

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also give their approval to a proposal to lend €500m to Tunisia to supplement medium-term loans from the IMF, which they debated earlier this morning. 

The country’s economy has struggled since the Arab Spring in 2011, as well as following terror attacks which have hit its tourist industry.

Tunisia requested the loans in August last year. The EU has already granted loans worth around €300m in 2014. 

MEPs ratify EU-Philippines agreement

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also vote to ratify a co-operation agreement that the EU initially signed with the Philippines in July 2012, which they debated during the sitting yesterday. 

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. 

Makati
EPA
Makati is the country's main financial centre

MEPs approve tariff reductions for high-tech goods

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also vote to ratify, by 529 votes to 110, a deal struck at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) between the EU and 24 countries to gradually eliminate tariffs on a number of high-tech devices.

The agreement – which includes Australia, Canada, China, Japan, and the US – would affect video game consoles, medical imaging technology and touch screens.

Under the plan, tariffs are to be reduced from July 2016, and eliminated by July 2019. 

MEPs back visa-free travel for Palau, Tonga and Colombia

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

By large majorities, MEPs vote to ratify three separate agreements which would allow the citizens of Palau, Tonga and Colombia to travel to the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa.

This right has already been granted to citizens of around 60 non-EU countries, including Brazil, Canada, Australia and the United States.

The visa-free waiver will not apply to either the UK or Ireland. 

Voting graphic
BBC
Travel rights for citizens of Palau was backed by 587 votes to 50

MEPs back Panama Papers inquiry committee

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs kick off the session by voting to give final approval to a proposal to set up an inquiry committee into the Panama Papers scandal.

A huge leak of documents published in April disclosed how the clients of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were able to use tax havens to hide wealth, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.

The 65-MEP committee will investigate whether the files show breaches of EU money laundering law and tax avoidance guidelines.

The body is expected to begin work in the autumn and present a final report in less than 12 months.

Mossack Fonseca
AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The data leak is one of the biggest ever

Speech finishes - voting to begin soon...

With the speech from Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev finished, MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session. 

Plevneliev makes Schengen plea

European Parliament

Strasbourg

President Plevneliev switches, however, to the real conflict in Ukraine - and tells MEPs, to applause, to to him,"Crimea is Ukraine, and Ukraine is Europe". 

He backs the EU's move to offer visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Ukrainian citizens, which he calls a "significant and urgent step" to securing a European future for the country. 

"In the 21st Century, Europe's problems should be resolved on parliaments not battlefields," he adds. 

He tells MEPs that his country has a good record of border management and regulating the EU's external border, and should be allowed to join the Schengen area "for the sake of EU common security policy". 

He says he hopes in the future the western Balkans can become a "frontline of stability and prosperity". 

President Plevneliev
BBC

Bulgarian President: Europe facing 'cold peace'

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Speaking in English, President Plevneliev says he he is proud to address the Parliament as the head of a "proud pro-European nation". 

He warns that the world is facing an increased threat from terrorism, a lack of security and that in consequence "borders are making a comeback".

"The same generation that brought down the Berlin wall is building new ones today", he says, before adding that he hopes Europe is not heading towards a "new Cold War". 

He says that Europe is currently facing a form of "cold peace" - where there is not a threat of outright war but where "methods from the Cold War time" - such as targeted propaganda - are being used. 

President Plevneliev
BBC

Up next: Bulgarian President addresses MEPs

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on loans to Tunisia finished. MEPs are now taking their seats to hear a speech from Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.

He is the first President from Bulgaria to give a speech to the European Parliament since the country joined the EU in January 2007. 

Watch again: Nigel Farage addresses MEPs

EU 'cannot issue blank cheques' - MEP

Debate on EU loans to Tunisia

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Belgian Conservative Sander Loones says he supports the idea of the new loans, but that the EU "cannot issue blank cheques". 

He says that the money must be accompanied by "fundamental reforms" to deliver jobs. 

French left-winger Patrick le Hyriac criticises the funding approach adopted by the IMF, which he says relies on increasing debt and "reducing sovereignty". 

He adds that a different approach should be taken that includes supporting the economy by freezing existing debts. 

Patrick le Hyriac
BBC

Katainen: EU Commission 'can and should' support Tunisia

Debate on EU loans to Tunisia

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Also representing the Commission in this debate, Jyrki Katainen says the Commission "can and should contribute to renewed financial support" for Tunisia. 

He says the loans will help the country to stabilise its economy and support the "significant progress" made towards a political transition towards democracy. 

He calls on MEPs to support the Commission's proposal at the vote at lunchtime, which includes making payments in three tranches over the next two years.