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Summary

  1. The sitting began with a debate new EU emissions limits for engines not used in cars, and on a motion endorsing the right of asylum seekers and refugees to find work.
  2. MEPs also discussed funding for an EU jobs scheme and a proposed update to EU rules for labelling the energy efficiency of household appliances.
  3. In the evening, they debated non-binding "own initiative" motions about the EU's trade strategy, tax avoidance rules and human rights priorities.
  4. The session ended with a round of short topical speeches.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

MEPs will be back tomorrow at 07.30 BST, when Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte joins MEPs to review his country's time in charge of the EU presidency.

After this, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are due to join MEPs to discuss last week's EU leaders' summit and their position on Brexit negotiations.

After lunch, MEPs will debate the EU's long-term budget, and recommendations from the Parliament's investigatory committee on tax avoidance.

They will also debate legislation to set up the EU's proposed Border and Coast Guard force, which will be put to a vote on Wednesday. 

Short topical 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. 

EU 'has delivered' on anti-trafficking standards - Commissioner

Debate on own-initiative motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Representing the Commission, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says the EU executive will "continue to fight" for higher anti-trafficking standards. 

"The EU has delivered, but a lot remains to be done," she adds. 

She tells MEPs that 26 EU states have now fully transposed the EU's anti-trafficking directive, with only Germany having not done so (the law does not apply to Denmark). 

Cecilia Malmstrom
BBC

MEP outlines anti-trafficking motion

Debate on own-initiative motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German Green MEP Barbara Lochbihler has prepared a motion on behalf of the foreign affairs committee on how the EU can help tackle human trafficking.

It calls on EU countries to train staff at migrant reception centres to help them identify children at risk of being trafficked.

However it calls for “different legal and practical responses” to trafficking – forced illegal entry – and smuggling, where migrants gain illegal entry by consent, often by paying a smuggler.

The draft also calls on the Commission and Europol, the EU police agency, to see what more can be done to tackle smuggling, particularly sexual exploitation, over the internet. 

Barbara Lochbihler
BBC

Short debate on 'own initiative' motion begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about the EU’s trade and development policies finished – MEPs will vote on the two motions tomorrow.

Next tonight, there will be a short debate on a non-binding “own initiative” motion - these motions do not carry any legal force and are not binding on the Commission or on member states. 

In practice, they often serve as policy suggestions from MEPs on Parliament's various committees. 

German MEP: Trade potential 'far from being fulfilled'

Debate on trade and tax motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German Green MEP Ska Keller says that trade policy can be a useful tool for promoting human rights and environmental protections, but that this is "far from being fulfilled" at the moment. 

In fact, she says that EU trade policy currently "often increases inequality" although she says the Commission's new strategy is a "step in the right direction". 

Ska Keller
BBC

Labour MEP: EU must help 'losers from globalisation'

Debate on trade and tax motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Labour MEP David Martin says that he is "not convinced" that the Commission's trade policy has delivered on its promises when it comes to sustainability. 

It is time, he says, for the Commission to "deliver on its promises" - adding that open trade must be accompanied by measures such as strengthening the EU's Globalisation Adjustment Fund, adding: 

"the losers from globalistion should not be left alone"

David Martin
BBC

Enjoying the plenary

German Green MEP tweets:

Spanish MEP calls for end to 'entrepreneurial impunity'

Debate on trade and tax motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the Parliament's development committee, Spanish Podemos MEP Lola Sanchez-Caldentey says sustainability promises from companies "mean almost nothing". 

She says the EU must do more to end a climate of "entrepreneurial impunity".

It is "not right", she adds, that asking multinationals to respect human rights "is seen as extremist".

Lola Sanchez-Caldentey
BBC

Trade policy also 'about defending values' - Commissioner

Debate on trade and tax motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom tells MEPs that the Commission's updated trade policy shows that trade is not just about the economy but "defending the values that we share in Europe".

She says the Bangladesh sustainability compact, created in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, is an example of this at work. 

She says that the EU is a "front-runner" on sustainability matters in its trade policies, but that more remains to be done.  

Cecilia Malmstrom
BBC

MEPs debate trade and tax motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about EU energy efficiency labels finished – MEPs will set out their initial position on the new rules at a vote on Wednesday.

They are now debating two non-binding motions about the EU’s trade strategy, corporate tax avoidance and its development and human rights priorities.

The first, drafted by Italian left-winger Eleonora Forenza, calls for all previous EU trade and investment agreements to be assessed to “identify their consequences on gender equality”.

It also repeats a call made by the Parliament for “compulsory country-by-country reporting” of income and tax payments by private companies in a drive to lower tax avoidance.

The second, prepared by her compatriot and Five Star MEP Tiziana Beghin, calls for trade liberalisation to be “properly conducted to ensure sustainable development”. 

What’s MEPs’ position on the change?

Debate on EU energy efficiency labels

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tomorrow, MEPs will vote to set out their initial position on the Commission’s proposal, ahead of negotiations on the legislation with national ministers.

Their draft text backs establishing the A-G scale for all appliances, which MEPs said should be introduced within five years after the regulation has come into force.

However they proposed exemptions for certain second-hand products, as well as elevators, escalators and conveyor belts.

MEPs on the industry and energy committee also proposed setting up an EU "product database" and consumer website to help people choose efficient products. 

MEPs begin debate on appliance energy labels

Debate on EU energy efficiency labels

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the Youth Employment Initiative finished. MEPs are now debating an update to EU rules for labelling the energy efficiency of household appliances.

An EU-wide labelling scheme was originally created in 1995 in a bid to make it easier for consumers to identify products that are energy efficient.

The current scheme includes a scale of A+, A++, A+++ for the most efficient appliances – the Commission proposed last year to replace this with an A-G scale for all products.

The EU executive argued that an A-G scale would better reflect technological developments over the last few years, which mean more appliances are now in the most efficient classes. 

Dishwasher dial
BBC

MEP 'not a lot wiser' on scheme's success

Debate on Youth Employment Initiative

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Marian Harkin
BBC

Irish Liberal MEP Marian Harkin says that whilst the overall amount of money spent on the YEI is important, success also hinges on "effective" spending. 

She adds that the European Court of Auditors has questioned the way the quality of created jobs is measured, as well as how the Commission reports on the success of the scheme. 

She says that although she heard encouraging noises from the Commissioner, she is "not a lot wiser" about the specific questions asked by the committee. 

Italian MEP Laura Agea, from the Five Star Movement, says however that the EU schemes have "failed grievously".

She adds that some of her constituency have contacted her to say that, a year after enrolling in the initiative, they have yet to receive work that is paid.  

States 'making substantial efforts' to implement youth scheme - Commissioner

Debate on Youth Employment Initiative

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen tells MEPs that member states are making "substantial efforts" to implement the Youth Employment Initiative. 

She adds that two years after the scheme was started, the project is a "key lever" for countries with high unemployment rates to provide skills.

She says, however, that governments must pay attention to the quality of jobs being created.

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

EU employment efforts 'far too little'

Debate on Youth Employment Initiative

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German left-winger Thomas Handel says the EU's youth guarantee scheme and the YEI have "yet to have full effect".

He says that youth unemployment remains high, with wide discrepancy between different regions and nations in Europe. 

He tells MEPs that although the EU can take action in this area, member states "will have to work on this", adding: 

something has been done - but far too little, and it's slow"

Thomas Handel
BBC

MEPs begin debate on EU employment scheme

Debate on Youth Employment Initiative

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on giving asylum seekers the right to work finished – MEPs will vote on their motion tomorrow.

MEPs are now debating the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) – a jobs scheme set up in 2013, aiming to tackle high rates of youth unemployment in certain EU countries.

They agreed in 2015 to a proposal from the Commission to front-load around a third of the scheme’s seven-year budget into its funding quota for last year.

Members of the employment committee have tabled an oral question to ask the Commission whether the move helped increase the uptake of jobs, and whether the scheme needs more money. 

Jobcentre in Madrid
Reuters
Spain has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe

Commissioner: Integration not an easy job

Debate on refugee work rights

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Summing up the debate, Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen tells MEPs that it is a "legal, moral and ethical" duty of the EU to grant refugee status to those who meet the criteria. 

She adds that integrating refugees into society is "not an easy job", and requires efforts to be made "on both sides". 

She says that greater integration is a "win-win, economically and socially". 

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Austrian MEP: Motion 'disregards reality'

Debate on refugee work rights

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Franz Obermayer
BBC

Franz Obermayer, an MEP from the right-wing Freedom Party in Austria, says that tomorrow's motion disregards the "reality" of the situation on the ground. 

He adds that very few of the asylum seekers in Germany have taken up jobs at big listed companies, and that the majority "take up cheap jobs, which will lead to social tension".

Adam Kosa, from the ruling Fidesz party in Hungary, says it is important to draw a distinction between refugees seeking protection and economic migrants.

He also criticises the scope of tomorrow's motion, telling MEPs that it touches on policy areas that should be dealt with exclusively by national governments. 

Green MEP: Integration investment 'will be repaid'

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jean Lambert
BBC

Green MEP Jean Lambert says that the right of asylum seekers to work is "very clear" in the EU's common European asylum system.

She says that integration must also be accompanied by investment in local authorities to aid integration, which will be "repaid in many, many ways". 

Italian MEP Laura Agea, from the Five Star Movement, says that more support must be given to those who are hosting migrant reception centres. 

She adds that the crisis also shows the need for greater "burden sharing" between different EU countries. 

What else is in the draft motion?

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The draft also states that national governments should provide “general and work-related comprehensive language courses” for asylum seekers and refugees.

It welcomes Jean-Claude Juncker’s call for asylum seekers to have the right to work whilst their applications are being processed, but adds that the Commission has since shown a “lack of resolve”.

It adds that in the past, refugees and asylum seekers are “too often are first relocated to places where they cannot be integrated into the labour market”.

It adds that lengthy registration of asylum seekers at borders, as well as slow processing of their asylum claims, generates the “conditions” that mean people will take on illegal work. 

MEPs argue against 'parallel job markets'

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German Christian democrat MEP Thomas Mann says that any kind of "special status" for refugees should be avoided, and legislation such as minimum wage rules should apply to them equally. 

He says he hopes the motion is approved tomorrow, and that politicians make sure refugees are "not going to become the long-term unemployed of the future". 

His compatriot, social democrat Jutta Steinruck, says EU countries should avoid "creating parallel job markets" for asylum seekers and refugees. 

She says that any sense that refugees finding paid work is leading to a lowering of employment standards or wages will swell the popularity of "right-wing populists". 

Jutta Steinruck
BBC

Commissioner supports 'early access' to jobs market

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Marianne Thyssen says she would like to thank the committee for its "valuable recommendations", although she says many have already been "taken into account".

She says that the cost of not integrating refugees and asylum seekers into the labour market is higher in the long term than the cost of integration projects. 

She adds that she welcomes the motion's emphasis on giving refugees and asylum seekers "early and effective" access to jobs and to public services such as housing. 

She also points out that the Commission has proposed that an EU programme for highly-skilled migrants - known as the blue card scheme - is extended to cover qualifying refugees. 

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

'Absolutely necessary' for refugees to have work rights - MEP

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Italian social democrat Brando Benifei, who compiled the motion on behalf of the employment committee, tells MEPs that giving refugees the right to work is "absolutely necessary".

He adds that "social inclusion methods" must also be drawn up alongside this, which "need as much money as possible". 

He crticises the anti-EU ENF group, which he says tried to "throw a spanner in the works" during negotiations over the motion but have not turned up for this afternoon's debate.

Brando Benifei
BBC

MEPs begin debate on refugee motion

Debate on refugee rights to work

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the short debate on new EU emissions limits finished - MEPs will vote on the legislation during their sitting tomorrow. 

Next, Commissioner Thyssen will remain with MEPs to debate attempts to integrate refugees in Europe and give them access to jobs.

Tomorrow, MEPs will vote on a non-binding motion which says that both qualified refugees and asylum seekers have the right to find paid work.

The draft notes that allowing them right to work would ease the cost borne by local authorities and allow them to become “self-sufficient” and gain “recognition in society”.

However it adds that local economic circumstances should be taken into account when refugees are relocated, in order to “maximise their labour-market integration prospects”. 

Migrant camp in Greece
AP

New rules 'will reduce costs' for producers - MEP

Debate on EU emissions limits

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Giovanni la Via
BBC

Italian centre-right MEP Giovanni la Via, who also chairs the environment committee, says he would like to thank Ms Gardini for her work in the negotiations. 

He adds that the new rules should end up "reducing costs for producers" by harmonising rules and lessening the bureaucratic burden on companies. 

Hungarian Socialist Tibor Szanyi says that any post-Brexit standards in the UK "must respect" the transnational nature of the problem of air pollution.

Commissioner asks MEPs for backing on new limits

Debate on EU emissions limits

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen tells MEPs that the new regulation will set out "more stringent limits" on engine emission limits.

She adds that it will also set out harmonised rules to improve the EU's single market, and align EU countries with "international standards". 

She asks MEPs to back the deal at the vote tomorrow, adding that it will "have a positive effect on the environment and health". 

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Deal 'strikes excellent balance' - lead MEP

Debate on EU emissions limits

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Italian centre-right Elisabetta Gardini, who acted as Parliament's lead negotiator on the new rules, says negotiation on the legislation has been "very long and complex". 

However, she says the final deal reached with national ministers is a "very good agreement", noting that it was approved unanimously by the environment committee. 

She adds that the deal "strikes an excellent balance" between environmental concerns and preserving the competitiveness of European industry. 

Elisabetta Gardini
BBC

MEPs begin debate on engine emissions limits

Debate on EU emissions limits

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the week’s agenda now approved, MEPs move to their first business of the day – a debate on new EU emissions rules for engines not used in cars or lorries.

The updated limits will cover nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions from lawn mowers, bulldozers, construction machinery, generators and canal boats.

MEPs have reached a provisional deal on the legislation, which will be put to final vote tomorrow.

Parliament negotiators tightened the initial limits suggested by the Commission, but have said smaller companies should be given more time to comply with the new regulations. 

Machinery in Lancashire
PA

MEPs add debate on Middle East to Wednesday's agenda

Debate on the week's agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the Socialist and Democrat group, Spanish MEP Enrique Guerrero Salom requests a debate on Wednesday afternoon about the peace process in the Middle East. 

The request is approved by 174 votes to 136. 

Enrique Guerrero Salom
BBC

MEPs add debate on Poland to September agenda

Debate on the week's agenda

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the left-wing GUE and Socialist and Democrat groups, Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli requests a debate tomorrow afternoon on the fundamental rights situation in Poland. 

The country has been the subject of an unprecedented EU probe into whether changes to its constitutional court and media laws contradict the bloc's fundamental rights laws. 

The GUE group has criticised several of the right-leaning groups for "completely withdrawing the issue" from this week's agenda at a meeting of group leaders last week. 

Polish Conservative MEP Ryszard Czarnecki speaks against the idea, adding that holding a debate now would constitute "undue interference" into the Commission's probe. 

MEPs reject adding the debate to this week's agenda, but they agree to add it to the agenda for a plenary sitting in September. 

Barbara Spinelli
BBC

MEPs pay tribute to French ex-PM Michel Rocard

European Parliament

Strasbourg

At the request of Parliament President Martin Schulz, MEPs hold a minute's silence in memory of former French prime minister and ex-MEP Michel Rocard, who died on Saturday.

Mr Schulz pays tribute to Mr Rocard, whom he describes as a "a great European" and a "great statesman". 

Minute's silence
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.