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Summary

  1. Click the live coverage tab to watch Wednesday's speech from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Thursday's speech from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
  2. Scroll down the page to read updates from Wednesday's plenary sitting, including a debate on recent violence in DR Congo and long-term fishing quotas for the Baltic Sea.
  3. MEPs also discussed EU counter-extremism strategies and new rules for determining divorce proceedings for international couples.
  4. The session ended with a debate on EU co-operation over education and training, and one-minute topical speeches.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Session ends

European Parliament

Brussels

And with that, tonight's plenary sitting in Brussels comes to an end. 

Debate on short topical speeches begins

One-minute speeches

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. 

Debate on education targets begins

Debate on EU education and training targets

European Parliament

Brussels

That’s the debate on new rules for court cases of international couples finished – the vote will take place tomorrow.

MEPs have now been joined by Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics to debate the EU’s Strategic Framework for European cooperation in education and training.

Member states run their own national education systems, but there are EU policies that aim to boost co-ordination in certain areas. 

These include a number of targets over things such as the proportion of students studying abroad and the proportion of people with basic reading and maths skills.

MEPs will vote on a motion tomorrow outlining their position on the strategy. 

Classroom
BBC

MEPs begin court case rules changes

Debate on rule changes for divorce case rules

European Parliament

Brussels

That’s the debate about US sanctions on Iran finished. MEPs are now debating new EU rules to clarify where divorce and death proceedings for international couples should take place.

The European Commission estimates that there are around 16 million international couples in the EU. 

Legislation tabled in 2011 to change the current rules was rejected in December last year, after member states failed to reach the required unanimous agreement.

However earlier this year, a total of 18 member states – not including the UK – said they still wanted to push ahead with the rules changes under the EU’s enhanced co-operation procedure.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to ratify the changes – although they do not have the power to amend them. 

Gavel
Reuters
So-called 'parallel proceedings' for divorcing couples can prove costly

Commissioner: 'Challenges to overcome' with Iran

Debate on US Iran sanctions

European Parliament

Brussels

In reply, Industry and Internal Market Commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska says that the deal is at a "critical juncture", but tells MEPs that the EU has "faithfully met" its obligations under the deal.

Despite this, she says that there are "still challenges we need to overcome".

She adds that given that Iran has been isolated from the world economy for more than ten years, "full reintegration" will not happen "overnight" - but that she is confident it will succeed. 

She says the Commission, as well as national authorities, are in "regular consultation" with Iran and is regularly updating its guidance to companies. 

Elżbieta Bienkowska
BBC

'Many' US sanctions still in place - Lange

Debate on US Iran sanctions

European Parliament

Brussels

Bernd Lange, the German social democrat who chairs the Parliament's International Trade Committee, says that "many" of the US sanctions have not yet been lifted after last year's nuclear deal with Iran. 

He adds that the sanctions are still affecting companies in a number of EU countries, who have been subjected to "unfair treatment" from the US authorities. 

He says the committee has called the debate to "establish clarity" for European businesses, and asks what talks the Commission has held with the US on this matter. 

Bernd Lange
BBC

MEPs begin debate on effect of US sanctions on EU firms

Debate on US Iran sanctions

European Parliament

Brussels

That’s the debate on quotas for cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea finished – MEPs will put the plan to a final vote at their session tomorrow.

Next, Commissioner Bienkowska will remain with MEPs to debate the “extraterritorial” effect on EU businesses of US sanctions on Iran.

Six world powers – including the UK, France and Germany – started to lift economic sanctions on Iran earlier this year in exchange for limits on Tehran's nuclear programme.

However the International Trade Committee has tabled an oral question in which they say some European businesses are still “finding it difficult” to access Iranian markets due to the knock-on impact of US sanctions which have yet to be lifted.

They also state that EU companies often find it more difficult to get waivers from the US Department of the Treasury than their American counterparts. 

MEP criticises 'greed turned into policy'

Debate on fishing quotas

European Parliament

Brussels

Dutch left-wing MEP Anja Hazekamp says that under the change, the "maximum sustainable yield" for the species will be increased.

She says that this "open the door" to similar revisions in areas such as the North Sea - and that this move is  "nothing more than greed turned into policy". 

She tells MEPs: 

there's only one thing you can call that, it's over-fishing"

Anja Hazekamp
BBC

Baltic scheme 'first of new generation' of plans

Debate on fishing quotas

European Parliament

Brussels

Commissioner Bienkowska says the Baltic plan is the "first of a new generation" of multiannual plans under the revised Common Fisheries Policy. 

She says that the new type of plan should lead to the "sustainable long term management" of various fishing stocks. 

Commissioner Bienkowska
BBC

Debate on Baltic Sea fishing quotas begins

Debate on fishing quotas

European Parliament

Brussels

MEPs have now been joined by Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bienkowska to debate long terms quotas for cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea.

It is the first “multiannual plan” to cover several species of fish at the same time – a proposal included in wide-ranging changes to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in 2013.

The new approach is supposed to take account of the fact that the species have an effect upon each other – cod eats sprat and herring, as well as smaller cod.

The Parliament reached a provisional deal on the plan in March, which will be put to a final vote tomorrow lunchtime.  

Cod from Baltics
Getty Images

MEP calls for 'harsh' penalties

Debate on radicalisation and extremism

European Parliament

Brussels

Swedish MEP Kristina Winberg, from the Sweden Democrats party, says that terrorism must be tackled "at its source".

She recommends greater controls at internal European borders, and "harsh" penalties and the removal of EU citizenship for those convicted of terror offences.

MEP calls for greater employment and education

Debate on radicalisation and extremism

European Parliament

Brussels

Austrian Green Ulrike Lunacek says that as well as commemorating the two police officers killed recently in France and the victims of the Orlando shootings, she would like to pay tribute to Jo Cox - who used to work at the European Parliament as an assistant. 

She says that more needs to be done to tackle issues at the root of extremism, such as a lack of education and employment opportunities. 

Attacks are often perpetrated, she says, by people who lack meaning in their lives and feel as if they have "no future". 

Ulrike Lunacek
BBC

Commissioner: EU security approach 'must be reinforced'

Debate on radicalisation and extremism

European Parliament

Brussels

Commissioner Navracsics says European countries are facing a terror threat from people "born and raised in our territories" who are "turning against their own follow citizens".

He says that preventing radicalisation should be a first priority, but that the "security approach" of EU countries needs to be "reinforced", to disrupt the ability of terrorists to travel and access weapons. 

He says this is why the Commission has proposed "systematic checks" for both EU and non-EU citizens at the external borders of the Schengen area.

The measure yesterday received the backing of the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee - MEPs will now start negotiations on the legislation with national ministers. 

Commissioner Navracsics
BBC

'Range of measures' taken at EU level - Dutch minister

Debate on radicalisation and extremism

European Parliament

Brussels

Bert Koenders
BBC

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders says the recent shootings at a gay nightclub in Florida and the killing of two French police officials at their home west of Paris provoked "outrage".

He tells MEPs that a "range of measures" have been taken at EU level to prevent radicalisation, including proposed new rules on countering terrorist material on the internet. 

He adds that Europol, the EU police agency, is running a referral unit to remove such material from the internet. 

He says that "mutual respect" and "fundamental values" must be taught in European schools at early age. 

MEPs begin debate on extremism

European Parliament

Brussels

That’s the debate on violence in DR Congo finished.

MEPs have now been joined by Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders to debate efforts at an EU level to prevent radicalisation and extremism. 

MEP calls for end to 'illegal exploitation' of minerals

Debate on DR Congo

European Parliament

Brussels

Spanish centre-right MEP Agustín Díaz De Mera says that the violence in the east of DR Congo has lead to a million and a half displaced people and "more than a thousand people raped a day".

He says MEPs must act to prevent the "illegal exploitation on resources" by groups linked to the violence. 

MEPs have been pushing for years for EU legislation on monitoring of money from the sale of minerals in countries where there is armed conflict or a risk of it - news of a potential deal between the Commission, MEPs and national ministers came earlier this month. 

Hoewever, Italian social democrat Pier Panzeri says such a law has been opposed by "many" in the Commission and EU Council of ministers, whom he accuses of crying "crocodile tears". 

Agustín Díaz De Mera
BBC

Children 'used as weapons of war' - MEP

Debate on DR Congo

European Parliament

Brussels

Jordi Sebastia
BBC

Valencianist MEP Jordi Sebastia says MEPs must show they are "not giving up on the people of the DRC", and calls for an investigation into the killings. 

He adds that women and children are being "used as a weapon of war" in the country. 

Croatian centre-right MEP Davor Stier says that the mineral resources that could have contributed to the enrichment of the people of DR Congo are "closely linked" to the conflicts in the country. 

He calls on the African Union to also fight against the corruption in the country. 

Background to the violence

The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament tweets

MEPs begin debate on violence in DR Congo

Debate on DR Congo

European Parliament

Brussels

MEPs have been joined by Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, and the sitting begins with a debate on reported violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Education Commissioner Navracsics will make opening and closing speeches in the debate on behalf of EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

The country has recently seen some of the worst massacres in its recent history in North Kivu, in the northeast of the country.

Those behind the violence are believed to be Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces.

This afternoon’s debate also comes after an ex-rebel leader was yesterday jailed for 18 years at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and sexual violence. 

MEPs add counter-radicalisation debate

European Parliament

Brussels

With the agreement of the political groups, Vice-President Antonio Tajani proposes to add a debate to this afternoon's agenda on "preventing radicalisation leading to violent extremism and terrorism". 

The change to the agenda is approved by MEPs. It means this afternoon's scheduled debate on EU data transfers to China has now been postponed to the next plenary sitting, in July.   

MEPs to approve agenda

European Parliament

Brussels

Parliament President Martin Schulz thanks President Rivlin for his speech, and says wishing Muslims a happy Ramadan at the end of it is a "very strong signal for peace".  

That’s the speech from the Israeli President finished – MEPs will now begin today’s sitting by debating whether to add or change any debates from the agenda.

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. 

Reuvlin: Conditions for settlement 'failing to materialise'

Speech from Israeli President Rivlin

European Parliament

Brussels

President Reuvlin
BBC

President Reuvlin tells MEPs that the conditions to make a permanent settlement between Israel and Palestine are "failing to materialise".

He adds that, for the moment, Israeli citizens are required to live with the "reality of the chaos-stricken Middle East".

He says that if the "international community" wishes to further the peace process, it should not promote the "renewal of negotiations for negotiations' sake", which he says would bring "predictable failure". 

Instead, he adds, nations could strive to help create the conditions for a deal, and "building trust" between the two parties. 

He says that "joint ventures" in areas such as infrastructure, energy and culture could "create another horizon". 

Israel President: Common values 'shape our future'

Speech from Israeli President Rivlin

European Parliament

Brussels

President Rivlin begins his speech by telling MEPs that despite the miles that separate them, there is "not much distance" between Brussels and Tel Aviv, two cities which have "both recently struck by a wave of terrorism". 

He says that Europe "could not be what it is without the Jewish people", and that values shared by Europe and Israel "dictate our present and shape our future". 

He adds that these shared values will be put to a "complex test" in tomorrow's UK referendum, and the ongoing effects of the migration crisis. 

He says that there is, however, a "ongoing sense of impatience" in Israel with the conduct of some European nations, and a sense that Israel has been subjected to "unfair criticism". 

He calls on European politicians to "respect Israeli sovereignty".    

President Rivlin
BBC

MEPs observe minute's silence for Jo Cox

European Parliament

Brussels

At the request of Parliament President Martin Schulz, MEPs observe a minute's silence in memory of killed British MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed in her West Yorkshire constituency last week. 

President Schulz says that Mrs Cox was a "woman of high ideals, who did a lot for other people". 

Minute's silence
BBC

Good afternoon

European Parliament

Brussels

Hello and welcome to coverage of today’s plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Brussels.

The sitting will begin shortly, when MEPs will hear administrative announcements and have the chance to request additions or changes to this week’s agenda or make points of order.

However, before this MEPs will hear a speech from Reuven Rivlin, the President of Israel.

Tomorrow, they will also hear a speech from Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian National Authority.