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Summary

  1. MEPs debate funding arrangements for a new EU volunteering scheme
  2. They also discuss a non-binding motion which calls on the EU to phase out the use of palm oils
  3. Debate follows on the meat-packing scandal in Brazil and its effect on an EU trade deal with Mercosur

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & Coming up tomorrow...

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

MEPs will be back from 07.30 BST tomorrow, when they will first debate their final report into the emissions test-rigging scandal.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will address MEPs at 11.00 BST.

In the afternoon, MEPs will discuss the latest negotiations over Greek bailout.

Later, MEPs will debate new EU inspection rules for medical products. 

MEPs begin short topical debates

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. 

MEPs present report on women in rural areas

Next tonight two MEPs are presenting a draft non-binding policy proposal from the women’s rights committee with a number of recommendations to help women working in rural areas.

This kind of document, called an “own initiative report”, effectively contains policy suggestions for the EU Commission and member states but is not binding on them. 

MEPs debate codification of EU fishing boat rules

MEPs are now debating legislation that would codify a number of EU rules governing the size and shape of fishing boats.

Codification is the process of bringing one or more related texts together into a single new piece of legislation.

It is intended to make regulations more straightforward for users to implement and interpret. 

Fishing boat off the Sussex coast
PA

Calls to end Mercosur talks 'disproportionately excessive' - MEP

Debate on Brazil meat-packing scandal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

British Conservative Julie Girling says it is unfortunate to see MEPs using the crisis as an excuse to "trot out" anti-globalisation views. 

Calls to end trade negotiations with Mercosur because of the scandal are "unhelpful" and "disproportionately excessive", she adds.

MEP: Trade negotiations with Brazil should end

Debate on Brazil meat-packing scandal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Matt Carthy
BBC

Another Irish MEP, Sinn Fein's Matt Carthy, says the scandal has led to a breakdown in trust between Brazil and the EU.

It shows that the EU should end trade negotiations over meat. 

"At what cost is the Commission determined to continue with these deals?", he asks.

'Too close' relationship between industry and regulators

Debate on Brazil meat-packing scandal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Irish Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness questions whether the substandard products should be destroyed rather than being returned to Brazil, citing concern for Brazilian consumers. 

She adds that the scandal highlights the "too close relationship" between food regulators and large food industries. 

Mairead McGuinness
BBC

EU-Mercosur agreement 'will not lower standards'

Debate on Brazil meat-packing scandal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis tells MEPs that the EU has "probably the world's highest food safety standards". 

He adds that the EU swiftly put additional safety measures in place once news of the investigation broke. 

He insists that substandard meat will be "rejected and returned to Brazil". 

On trade, he says any future trade agreement between the EU and the four Mercosur countries, including Brazil, "will not lower" the EU's food safety standards. 

Vytenis Andriukaitis
BBC

MEPs begin debate on Brazil meat-packing scandal

MEPs are now debating safety standards on meat imported into the EU from Brazil, the Union’s largest meat supplier.

A huge investigation from Brazilian federal police recently found evidence that meat-packers had been selling rotten and substandard produce for several years.

China, the EU, South Korea and Chile have now announced restrictions on Brazilian meat products.

MEPs on the agriculture committee have questioned whether the scandal means the EU should exclude meat from the trade deal it is currently negotiating with the Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Brazil. 


          A member of Rio de Janeiro state"s consumer protection agency removes meat products from a refrigerator
AFP

MEPs begin debate on 'sustainable' palm oil

Next MEPs are debating a draft non-binding motion from the environment committee that calls on the EU to phase out the use of certain palm oils in biofuels.

The draft motion, which will be voted on tomorrow, says the EU should aim to completely phase out the use of palm oils linked to deforestation by 2020.

The draft text also calls on the Commission to introduce an EU-wide scheme for certifying “sustainable” palm oils.

It adds that the various different certification schemes that exist at the moment carry different criteria and can be “confusing for consumers”. 

Palm oil in Ivory Coast
AFP
Palm oil can be used as a kind of biodiesel

Commission 'taking stock' of current strategy

Debate on EU anti-people trafficking strategy

Dimitris Avramopoulos
BBC

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tells MEPs that the Commission has been a "strong supporter" of efforts to crack down on trafficking, which he calls an "odious crime". 

He says tackling traffickers "remains a priority", and that the migration crisis has made people more vulnerable to exploitation. 

He says the Commission is currently "taking stock" of the successes of the EU's current strategy before deciding on the next course to take. 

Debate on EU anti-trafficking strategy begins

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs are now debating a planned revision of the EU’s strategy for tackling the human trafficking.

The current strategy was planned to run until the end of last year. A revised strategy has been announced but is yet to be adopted by the Commission.

An EU directive passed in 2011 obliges member states to offer gender-specific support to trafficking victims.

Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, said that around 80% of “registered or presumed” victims in Europe between 2010 and 2012 were women. 

Commission 'takes questions seriously'

Debate on written questions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Education and Culture Commissioner Tibor Navracsics says that the Commission takes written questions from MEPs "seriously" and last year responded to an average of 40 per day. 

The EU executive, he says, "makes every effort to reply in good time". 

He says there is a limit on the length of responses to avoid "disproportionate costs".

He says the Commission appreciates a recent initiative from the Parliament to set a limit on the number of written questions submitted. 

MEPs to hear statement on written questions

Debate on written questions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs now move on to a statement on the standard of replies from the EU Commission to written questions posed by Members of the European Parliament. 

The statement was added to today's agenda at the opening of the sitting. 

German Christian democrat Daniel Caspary says the rate of non-response shows that the EU executive sometimes wishes to withhold information from MEPs. 

He adds that the Commission's responses to questions often lack detail. 

MEP: 'Serious questions' over new EU scheme

Debate on European Solidarity Corps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Marian Harkin
BBC

Irish Liberal MEP Marian Harkin says she is a "strong supporter of volunteering", but worries that the Commission's latest scheme will end up being a "rushed job". 

She says there are "many serious questions" that surround the scheme, including how the distinction between the volunteering and paid positions is to be made. 

She also accuses the Commission of providing "no detail" on how the scheme is to be funded. 

Left-wing Italian MEP Curzio Maltese says it is "not acceptable at all" for the scheme to be funded using money from the Erasmus student exchange programme. 

What's coming up this week?

European Parliament tweets

German MEP: Scheme must get 'fresh money'

Debate on European Solidarity Corps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Silvia Costa
BBC

German Christian democrat Sabine Verheyen says the scheme must be given "fresh money" instead of using money earmarked for existing schemes. 

"We shouldn't be robbing Peter to pay Paul," she adds.

Italian social democrat Silvia Costa says the "civic service" of the scheme should be specified, with the particular objective of promoting "European solidarity". 

Unanimous unhappiness

MEP tweets

Commissioner: 26,000 have signed up to scheme

Debate on European Solidarity Corps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tibor Navracsics
BBC

Education and Culture Commissioner Tibor Navracsics says that so far around 26,000 young people have already signed up to take part in the EU's scheme. 

He adds that the first placements have already started. 

He tells MEPs that the new scheme "builds on" existing EU programmes, with which it should "create synergies". 

He says that the scheme will include three kinds of placements - including paid trainee posts and "job offers", alongside volunteering positions. 

Scheme should not be 'cheap source of labour' - MEP

Debate on European Solidarity Corps

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Petra Kammerevert
BBC

German social democrat Petra Kammerevert says her group welcomes the plans for the new scheme. 

However, she adds that the new scheme should not "overlap" with the existing  European Voluntary Service

She adds that it is important the new scheme does not turn into a "cheap source of labour" for participating organisations. 

MEPs debate plans for EU volunteering scheme

European Parliament

Strasbourg

With the week’s agenda approved, MEPs move to the first of this afternoon’s debates, on plans for a 100,000-strong EU youth volunteer force.

The EU Commission is expected to table legislation next month for setting up the scheme.

MEPs on the culture and education committee want the Commission to explain how the scheme will avoid duplicating existing EU volunteer projects.

They have also asked for more information on how the scheme would be funded, as well as for guarantees that volunteering positions will not be used to replace paid jobs.

On Thursday, the Parliament will vote on a draft non-binding motion which says the scheme should not be financed at the expense of other EU programmes. 

MEPs add debate on crisis in Venezuela

Opening of the plenary session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Anti-government protesters in Venezuela
Reuters

MEPs approve a request from the centre-right EPP, centre-left S&D and Liberal ALDE groups for a debate on Wednesday on the political crisis in Venezuela.

After a separate round of voting, it is decided that the debate should be the fourth item on the afternoon's agenda - and that they should vote on motion later this month. 

It comes after the Venezuelan supreme court reversed its ruling to strip congress of its legislative powers.

The initial decision - announced on Wednesday last week - had been denounced as a "coup" by the opposition, which dominates the National Assembly.

Venezuela has the world's highest inflation rate, which the International Monetary Fund predicts could reach 1,660% next year. Long queues, power cuts and shortages of basic goods are common.

MEPs add debate on written questions

Opening of the plenary session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Daniel Caspary
BBC

MEPs approve a request from German Christian democrat Daniel Caspary to add a debate to today's agenda on the quality of the EU Commission's responses to written questions from MEPs. 

However, they reject a request from the Eurosceptic EFDD group for a full debate tomorrow afternoon on the Parliament's spending for next year. 

The matter is due to be voted on during Wednesday's sitting. 

MEPs condemn Dutch finance minister for no-show

European Parliament

Strasbourg

A number of MEPs take to the floor to condemn Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who has said he is not able to take part in a debate tomorrow on the Greek bailout negotiations. 

The Parliament had asked him for the third time to take part in a debate on the subject in his capacity as President of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers. 

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, leads the way by calling the situation a "scandal" and "unacceptable behaviour".

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group, says the affair shows the need for a permanent eurozone minister who answers to the European Parliament. 

Parliament President expresses condolences

Opening of the plenary session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
BBC

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani says he would like to express his condolences to the victims of today’s explosions on the St Petersburg metro and landslides in Colombia over the weekend.

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.