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Summary

  1. The sitting began with a debate a motion calling on all EU institutions to "implement fully" the recommendations of an UN disability rights committee.
  2. After this, MEPs debated and approved human rights motions relating to Malawi, Bahrain and Myanmar.
  3. They also backed a motion to veto Commission rules which would allow drinks companies to advertise that their caffeinated drinks increase alertness.
  4. After the voting session, they debated the Commission's decision to launch legal action against France and Germany over their application of minimum wage laws.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

That's the final plenary session before the summer break - there will be no meeting next month, and the next sitting in Strasbourg will be between 12-15 September. 

Commissioner responds

Debate on minimum wage laws

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commissioner Bulc says the Commission "fully supports" the introduction of minimum wage legislation, but that they must be "necessary and proportionate" to single market rules. 

She adds that the EU executive judged that laws introduced in Germany and France could present an “unjustified administrative burden” on the free movement of services, without "applicable benefits” for the workers involved. 

She says the Commission is working on the "most appropriate" solution to the problem, which could affect many member states, as part of an upcoming review of transport legislation. 

Commissioner Bulc
BBC

MEPs debate minimum wage laws in EU

Debate on minimum wage laws

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That's the debate on EU data transfers to China finished. Finally this afternoon, MEPs will debate how the EU Commission enforces the application of national minimum wage legislation.

It comes after the Commission decided last month to launch legal action against France and Germany for requiring foreign transport drivers to be paid the French or German minimum wage.

A number of central and eastern European countries have urged the Commission to act against the laws, arguing that they unfairly disadvantage some haulage companies.  

In its announcement of the legal proceedings, the Commission said that such laws would limit the freedom to provide services, and the free movement of goods in a “disproportionate manner”. 

Lorries disembark at Dover
AP

Commissioner: Protections must apply outside EU

Debate on EU data transfers to China

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commissioner Bulc tells MEPs that EU law guaranteeing protection of personal data also applies when personal data is transferred outside the bloc. 

She says that China has not yet enacted any legislation relating to personal data protection, but that the Commission has "made it clear" to China that companies need to transfer data.

She adds that the Commission has not engaged in any "bilateral discussions" with China over protection, but is doing so through APEC, of which China is a member. 

She says that under EU law, it is the national data authorities that have "effective powers of intervention", with the power to impose bans on data processing. 

She also says that protections are available through corporate rules, and "standard contractual clauses". 

Commissioner Bulc
BBC

Privacy Shield: EU data transfers to the US

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Data transfers out of the EU have also hit the headlines due to the so-called Privacy Shield, the EU’s proposed data pact with the US.

The agreement, which has still to be finalised, will set the terms under which tech companies would legally be able to send personal information for processing in US data centres.

It is intended to replace Safe Harbour, a previous data agreement which the Court of Justice ruled incompatible with EU fundamental rights law last year.

MEPs led an inquiry into Safe Harbour and repeatedly called for it to be scrapped. They recently passed a motion which questioned whether all areas of the deal would comply with EU rights law. 

Computer cables
EPA

MEPs debate data transfers to China

Debate on EU data transfers to China

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on discrimination of food exporters in the single market finished. 

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc will remain with MEPs to debate data transfers between the EU and China.

Some MEPs have previously expressed concern about whether the Commission is trying to ensure any data transferred there complies with EU privacy and data protection standards.

An oral question eventually dropped from a plenary sitting last month said that although data transfers are happening due to developments in cloud computing, China does not have “an adequate personal data protection law” to govern how it is handled. 

Bulc: Commission 'shares concerns' of MEPs

Debate on single market regulations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Replying for the Commission, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc says she "shares the concerns" raised by MEPs on the agriculture committee. 

She says the Commission is committed to "efficient monitoring" to EU law to ensure single market rules are being respected. 

She adds that the EU executive will also soon be launching a plan to boost use of mutual recognition schemes, which she says are not being used to the full at the moment. 

She also says that a proposal to update the relevant EU law in this area will be announced next year. 

MEP: 'More and more' non-tariff barriers to trade

Debate on single market regulations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish centre-right MEP Czeslaw Adam Sierkierski tells MEPs that "more and more" non-tariff barriers to trade in food products have sprung up since the financial crisis. 

He says that these can include extra sanitary controls, or demanding additional certificates or documentation on transactions. 

He adds that this not only poses a "threat to the proper functioning of the internal market", but worsens the competitiveness of the European agricultural economy. 

He asks what legal action the Commission is prepared to take in the area. 

Czeslaw Adam Sierkierski
BBC

MEPs begin debate on 'discriminatory' food regulations

Debate on single market regulations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Welcome back to coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The sitting will be resuming shortly, when MEPs will first debate “discriminatory” regulatory differences between EU states and their impact on food exporters.

An oral question from MEPs on the Parliament’s agriculture committee says such incidents have become “increasingly frequent” and contravene a stipulation for goods to move freely across the EU.

They are asking the Commission whether it would consider taking “decisive action” to limit the impact of any “protectionist” measures taken by EU states. 

MEPs make short speeches on votes

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

This will be followed by a break for lunch, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 BST when MEPs will debate so-called non-tariff barriers for food exporters in the EU single market. 

MEPs veto health label proposals

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also pass a motion they debated yesterday to veto Commission proposals allowing drinks companies to advertise that their caffeinated drinks increase alertness.

Their motion says energy drinks have been linked to headaches, sleep problems and behavioural problems in children – and calls on the Commission to introduce stricter marketing rules.

MEPs pass human rights motions

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs approve all three of their human rights motions debated this morning which:

  • condemn the “widespread persecution” of albinos in Africa, particularly Malawi
  • express concern at the “campaign of repression” against rights activists in Bahrain
  • condemn the “continuing persecution” of minority groups in Myanmar 
Voting graphic
BBC
As is common for human rights motions, the text on Malawi is approved overwhelmingly

Voting session begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the debate on this month’s human rights motions finished, MEPs will now begin today’s short voting session. 

MEPs debate plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on Bahrain finished – MEPs will put their draft motion to a vote at the voting session, due to begin shortly.

Finally, they are now debating a motion condemning the “continuing persecution” of Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups in Myanmar.

It comes after a UN report recently urged the government to end “systemic discrimination” against minority groups, particularly in Rakhine state.

Rohingya Muslims make up around a third of the population of Rakhine – but are denied full citizenship and face economic discrimination and violence. 

Rohingya Muslims
AFP/GETTY
Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar in their thousands in recent years

Commissioner responds to debate

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini says that as well as being a human rights issue, the treatment of activists in Bahrain is also a "geopolitical concern".

She says "worrying" developments could "hamper reconciliation in the kingdom". 

She tells MEPs that an "EU-Bahrain working group" has been meeting since April, and the EU Commission is "constantly" calling for the release of political activists. 

She adds that the it is in the interests of the EU for there to be political stability in Bahrain - on which the Commission is "speaking up and engaging quietly". 

Federica Mogherini
BBC

Debate on Bahrain activist 'repression' begins

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on attacks against albinos in Africa finished – MEPs will vote on their motion at lunchtime.

They are now debating a motion expressing concern at the “ongoing campaign of repression” against human rights defenders and opposition politicians in Bahrain.

The draft text, agreed between six of Parliament’s political groups, also calls for the release of Nabeel Rajab, a rights activist who was arrested in the country earlier this month.

The 51-year-old is accused of "insulting a statutory body" in comments about the alleged torture of detainees at Jaw prison, and "disseminating false rumours in times of war".

The text also calls for the lifting of travel bans on human rights activists, and accuses the Bahraini government of using revocation of citizenship as a “means of political repression”. 

Protests at arrest of Nabeel Rajab
AP
Nabeel Rajab's arrest prompted protests outside his home in Bani Jamra

MEPs call for police action in Malawi

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Charles Tannock
BBC

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock says the plight of albinos "extends far beyond" Malawi, including a number of countries in Africa. 

He adds that there is a "clear need" for educational programmes and greater police action. 

Italian social democrat Pier Antonio Panzeri says that EU states should be doing more to put pressure on authorities to act - and calls for all abductions and killings to be "rigorously prosecuted". 

Debate on albino killings in Malawi begins

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The first human rights debate is on a motion condemning the “widespread discrimination and persecution” against albinos in Africa.

The draft text criticises a “silence and inertia” surrounding a rise of violence in Malawi – where it says police have reported 69 attacks since November 2014, including 18 murders.

Attacks have been driven by the belief advanced by some witchdoctors that albinos' body parts have properties that confer wealth and good luck.

UN expert Ikponwosa Ero recently warned that Malawi's estimated 10,000 albinos face "extinction" if they continue to be murdered for their body parts. 

Albino child
AFP/GETTY
Albinos are regularly killed in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania

Debate on human rights motions begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate about the UN’s disability convention finished – MEPs will now debate this month’s three topical motions on human rights cases.

The motions will be put to a vote shortly after the debates are finished, during the day’s voting session which is due to begin at 11.00 BST. 

MEP calls for Irish ratification of Convention

Debate on UN Disability Convention

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Irish Liberal Marian Harkin says that Ireland is one of only three EU countries still to ratify the Convention, and says she hopes the country does so by the end of the year. 

She calls for the EU to table "adequate legislation" to vindicate disability rights, to "find some solution" to fact that anti-discrimination laws on discrimination outside labour market has not found agreement among member states. 

Marian Harkin
BBC

Commissioner: 'Much remains to be done' on disability rights

Debate on UN Disability Convention

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says the UN Convention sets the "gold standard" for disability rights. 

She says that EU action to help the integration of those with disabilities into society has shown "good results so far" but that "much remains to be done".and that significant inequalities persist.  

She adds that discrimination against disabled people is already prohibited by EU law and the Commission is working to make sure existing provisions "fully implemented".

She says that the Commission is working through the recommendations in the UN report, and is preparing a progress report on its own disability strategy - to be presented at the end of this year. 

Marianne Thyssen
BBC

Good morning

Debate on UN Disability Convention

European Parliament

Strasbourg

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

The session will be getting underway shortly, when MEPs will be debating a motion calling on all EU institutions to “implement fully” the recommendations of an UN disability rights committee.

Among the committee’s recommendations was a call for the EU to ratify the optional protocol to the UN’s Disabilities Convention.