Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. MEPs debated and later approved tighter EU regulations for gun ownership
  2. They also approved their initial position on new EU-wide recycling targets
  3. This afternoon they debated recent US executive order banning federal funds from international groups which perform abortions
  4. Debates also on rules for food safety inspections, and next year's EU budget

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Thanks for watching

That's where we leave our live stream of the European Parliament.

We'll return for more coverage in the morning. In the meantime, thanks for watching.

Coming up later

That’s all from our live coverage of today’s plenary sitting. You can continue to watch the live stream of the session using the tab above.

Next, MEPs will be debating what the EU’s priorities should be at forthcoming sessions of the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Later, they will debate new EU rules on animal welfare, a report from the Parliament’s now-disbanded inquiry committee on tax avoidance, and next year’s EU budget.

In the evening they will also be discussing food shortages in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, and attempts to harmonise EU use of the 694-790 MHz internet bandwidth.

UKIP MEP: Policy is 'political football' in US

Debate on US executive order on abortion groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Raymond Finch
BBC

UKIP MEP Raymond Finch says that to call the policy a war on feminism would be "hyperbole", and that the matter has been a "political football" between the two main parties in the United States.

He adds that the religious groups that strongly oppose abortion in the US have their "analogue" in certain Catholic groups in Europe. 

He too is critical of holding the debate, saying that it is not the place of the European Parliament to tell the US government what to do. 

"You would not be pleased if the position were reversed," he adds. 

Dutch Liberal Sophia in't Veld intervenes to say the debate is more about whether the EU should spend additional money to make up for the shortfall in US spending. 

Abortion 'not an EU competence' - MEP

Debate on US executive order on abortion groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Beatrix von Storch
BBC

German Conservative Beatrix von Storch questions why the EU would want to provide any money to groups advocating abortion, which she says is "not an EU competence". 

French Front National MEP Marie-Christine Arnautu says the debate shows MEPs will use "any pretext" to attack Donald Trump. 

The United States, she adds, is free to "decide on its own criteria" for funding international groups. 

MEPs spar on EU funding

Debate on US executive order on abortion groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Terry Reintke
EP

Slovakian Conservative Branislav Skripek says he opposes attempts from the Commission to fund "exporting" abortion around the world. 

German Green MEP Terry Reintke however accuses Mr Skripek of "insulting family planning groups" who are "doing great work". 

MEPs set out opposition to US order

Debate on US executive order on abortion groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Linda McAvan
EP

Swedish centre-right MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt says the changes in the law have been greeted by a "chorus of concern" from rights groups and NGOs. 

She says the EU should "step in" and show "leadership" by making up financial shortfalls for international programmes - a position MEPs supported in a vote on a motion at lunchtime. 

Labour MEP Linda McAvan, who chairs the Parliament's development committee, is also critical of the policy - saying poorer women will "pay the price" of the executive order. 

She says that the last time the policy was put in place, the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in the affected countries increased. 

Commission 'concerned' about effect of US order

Debate on US executive order on abortion groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Christos Stylianides
EP

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides tells MEPs that the Commission is "concerned about the possible implications" of the US policy, particularly on international commitments to work towards universal coverage of reproductive health services, particularity in developing countries. 

He also says the policy could have ramifications on the UN's sustainable development goals, and the commitment to help women make "more informed decisions" about their health.

He adds that the EU remains "strongly committed" to global health commitments, and has pledged €20m over the next two years for the United Nations Population Fund

MEPs debate US executive order on abortion groups

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

MEPs will shortly be joined by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides to debate President Trump’s executive order last month banning federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions.

The policy requires non-governmental organisations receiving federal funding to agree to "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations".

It was first introduced by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, rescinded under the Clinton administration, reinstated under President George Bush, and ended again by Barack Obama in 2009.

Demonstrators protest against Trump's executive order
Getty Images
Critics have branded the policy a "global gag rule"

Short speeches begin

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

This opportunity is normally used by those MEPs who did not get the chance to speak during the main debate.

This will be followed by a break for lunch, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 BST.  

MEPs call for new EU laws for farm rabbits

Voting session

MEPs also approve a report drafted by the agriculture committee calling for “minimum standards” for rearing farm rabbit to be set out in EU legislation.

During the vote, they overturn an earlier version of the report which had called simply for specific EU animal welfare guidelines for farm rabbits.

The report calls for EU states to gradually phase out “conventional battery cages”, which it says constitute a risk to the animals’ welfare.

The EU currently has general provisions for farm animals, as well as specific rules for pigs, calves, laying hens, broiler chickens – but not rabbits.

When the report was debated yesterday, Justice Commissioner Vera told MEPs that the EU executive was not minded to introduce new laws in this area. 

Rabbit in cage
BBC

MEPs take position on new recycling targets

Voting session

Landfill
BBC

MEPs give their initial backing to legislation which would set new recycling targets for EU member countries.

In 2015 the EU Commission announced a legal target to recycle or reuse 65% of municipal waste by 2030, with only 10% of the waste allowed to be landfilled.

MEPs decide to approve amendments suggested by the Parliament’s environment committee.

However they decide not to put the amended text to a “first reading” vote at this stage, instead opting to start negotiations on the text with national ministers.

This is a tactic designed to give MEPs a greater chance to find compromises – after “first reading” approval, their ability to find a deal becomes time-limited. 

Tajani announces sanctions for Polish MEP

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
EP

Also worth noting: another announcement just before the voting session began - Parliament President Antonio Tajani announced a series of sanctions against Polish Janusz Korwin-Mikke for comments he made during a debate earlier this month

It follows a probe into whether the MEP broke parliamentary rules. 

The MEP had said that women "must earn less than men because they are weaker, smaller and less intelligent".

Mr Tajani says that Mr Korwin-Mikke will be denied the daily subsistence allowance for 30 days, and be suspended from parliamentary activities for 10 days.

In addition, he will be prohibited from representing the Parliament for a year. 

MEPs back new gun rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guns
Reuters

MEPs give their backing to new EU regulations on gun ownership they agreed with national ministers last December.

New rules announced after the 2015 Paris attacks would include greater restrictions on so-called “blank-firing” weapons such as signal guns and replicas, which could be turned into real firearms.

However a proposed ban on lookalike guns was toned down in the final text after objections from MEPs and national governments. 

MEPs approve new rules for mercury use

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs approve measures that would align EU legislation on the use of mercury with the terms of a 2013 UN agreement called the Minamata Convention.

The use of mercury in products such as batteries and thermometers is being phased out due to health concerns, but it is still used as a catalyst in certain industries.

The new rules will introduce stricter criteria for banning mercury exports and its use in manufacturing, and requirements for how mercury waste is stored.

MEPs back calls for EU horse-handling guidelines

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Horses at Cheltenham
Getty Images

First up though they approve a report drafted by the agriculture committee which calls on the EU to draw up guidelines for horse and donkey handling.

The report recommends that the guidelines cover responsible breeding, animal health and welfare standards and how the animals should be used in tourism.

It says the EU should also collate and provide information on examples of “good practices” in the different member states. 

Votes shortly

That’s the debate on the EU’s proposed new waste recycling targets finished. MEPs will vote to set out their position on the targets shortly, during today’s voting session. 

Commissioner urges EU to 'take the lead' on recycling

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Wrapping up the debate for the Commission, deputy Commission chief Frans Timmermans urges MEPs to back the "necessary" package of measures put forward by the EU executive. 

"The longer we wait with the waste package, the higher the cost will be", he adds. 

Noting that "everybody who is a stakeholder in this is on board", he says he is convinced that if the EU "takes the lead" in this area, then eventually the rest of the world will follow. 

Frans Timmermans
EP

Italian MEP calls for end to 'scandal' of food waste

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Damiano Zoffoli
EP

Italian social democrat Damiano Zoffoli picks up on another aspect of the text proposed by the environment - the target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.

Telling MEPs that 90 million tonnes of food are wasted every year in the EU, he says the amount of food thrown away is a "scandal". 

He adds that as well as targets, there needs to be better education about using food, plus tax breaks to "encourage positive behaviour".   

What's the circular economy?

European Parliament tweets

MEPs split over backing committee position

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

British Conservative Julie Girling says that she supports the original targets proposed by the Commission, instead of the higher targets favoured by the environment committee. 

However, Hungarian Green MEP Benedek Javor gives his backing to the committee's position. 

He says their revised targets merely reflect the "level of braveness" of previous Commissios led by Jose Manuel Barroso. 

Benedek Javor
EP

UKIP MEP 'not convinced' on EU plan

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Julie Reid
EP

Belgian Conservative Mark Demesmaeker gives his backing to the idea of creating a circular economy, telling MEPs that the EU needs to "change the dynamic" in how resources are used. 

UKIP MEP Julie Reid says she backs the "ideology" behind the drive to create a circular economy, but is "yet to be convinced" that it will boost European industry as well as cutting waste.

Pointing out that any new EU legislation "will not be binding on our competitors", she says she favours national-level solutions in this area. 

Commission targets 'challenging but achievable'

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Frans Timmermans
EP

Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans says that the EU is "moving in the right direction" in terms of waste management.

He adds that existing EU laws in this area have been "key drivers" in creating more efficiency in the way resources are used. 

He says that with more effective recycling plans, waste "ceases to become a problem, and becomes an opportunity". 

He tells MEPs that the Commission "takes note" of the position of the environment committee, but says the EU executive's current plans strike a good balance. 

The existing targets, he adds, are "challenging but achievable". 

Amendments will 'improve' targets - MEP

Debate on new EU recycling targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Simona Bonafe
EP

Italian social democrat Simona Bonafe, who has drafted the committee's response to the Commission's legislation, says the texts represent more than just new targets. 

She adds that the proposals contribute to the drive to create a so-called circular economy , where fewer materials and resources are wasetd. 

She tells MEPs that this could not only increase the competitiveness of the EU's economy, but create new jobs. 

She says that the Commission's plans represented a "good proposal" but MEPs have sought to "improve" them with their amendments. 

MEPs debate new recycling targets

MEPs are now debating legislation which would set new recycling targets for EU member countries.

In 2015 the EU Commission announced a legal target to recycle or reuse 65% of “municipal” waste by 2030, with only 10% of the waste allowed to be landfilled.

The new targets would also require 75% of packaging waste to be recycled by the same deadline, with specific targets set for different materials.

At lunchtime MEPs are due to hold an initial vote on the four pieces of legislation which set out he targets – before negotiations with EU states can begin.

The European Parliament’s environment committee has recommended that MEPs approve amendments to up the municipal waste target to 70%. 

Recycling site in Essex
Science Photo Library

MEPs split on new law

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Finnish social democrat Liisa Jaakonsaari also outlines her support for what she calls a "balanced" final text, which she says will increase security in Europe. 

She adds that she thinks it is good that "Europe is different to the US", where she says the ability to easily acquire firearms has led to a number of serous crimes.

However Czech Conservative Jan Zahradil says he will be voting against the proposal - claiming that terrorists will "laugh at" it - still have access to black market. 

MEP gives backing to plans

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

However there's support for the new rules from German social democrat Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, who says she finds the final text supportable. 

She accuses some MEPs of having given in to efforts from the "gun lobbies" to water down the proposals. 

Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann
EP

MEPs set out opposition to plans

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish Eurosceptic Robert Iwaszkiewicz outlines his opposition to the new law, claiming that it will "take away people's freedoms".

His speech prompts an intervention from Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who accuses him of scaremongering about the effect of the new regulations and asks whether he has read the final text that she negotiated.  

French Front National MEP Mylene Troszczynski states her opposition to the proposals, branding them "useless" and likely to disproportionately affect "honest citizens". 

Mylene Troszczynski
EP

MEP calls for amendments to planned law

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dita Charanzova
EP

Czech Liberal Dita Charanzova says the Parliament has been able to carry out "many improvements" to the Commission's initial text, but "got stuck halfway".

She says the original draft attacked the rights of legal gun owners, and criticises the EU executive's decision not to conduct an impact assessment into the effect of the new rules. 

She adds that there should instead be clearer rules on deactivating weapons, and more exchange of information between member states.  

She calls on her colleagues to support the amendments tabled by her group at the vote. 

Commissioner: This is 'balanced deal'

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

UK Commissioner Sir Julian King, whose brief includes responsibility over security, says there was a need to change EU gun laws to ensure criminals and terrorists do not "find it easy" to get hold of potentially dangerous weapons. 

He adds the fact that the Charlie Hebdo attackers used converted weapons they were able to buy legally was a "driving force" behind the proposed changes. 

He says that the Commission would have "liked to go further" with the restrictions on certain weapons, but recognises that both ministers and MEPs did not.

However he says he hopes the vote at lunchtime will be the final one on this text, which he says is a "balanced deal" representing a compromise. 

Sir Julian King
EP

MEP urges backing for compromise text

Debate on EU gun controls

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Vicky Ford
EP

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who has acted as the Parliament's lead negotiator on the legislation, says that current EU gun laws need to change. 

She says that "poorly deactivated" guns were used in the 2015 Paris attacks, and were able to be acquired without authorisation before being reconverted. 

She adds that MEPs have changed the Commission's "poorly drafted" initial proposals during the negotiation process - adding that its proposed restrictions on groups such as collectors were "disproportionate".

She urges her colleagues to back the text tomorrow as agreed with national ministers - adding that the amendments tabled are "not new" and could simply delay the process. 

MEPs to debate gun ownership rules

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

The sitting will be starting shortly, when MEPs will first be debating new EU regulations on gun ownership.

New rules announced after the 2015 Paris attacks would include greater restrictions on so-called “blank-firing” weapons such as signal guns and replicas, which could be turned into real firearms.

However a proposed ban on lookalike guns was toned down in the final text after objections from MEPs and national governments. 

A collection of guns
Reuters