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. Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker debate EU Brexit guidelines with MEPs
  2. UN chief Antonio Guterres makes speech at 11.00 BST
  3. MEPs call for EU action over Hungarian university law
  4. Afternoon sees debate on rules for accessing online TV abroad

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

And with that, tonight's sitting draws to a close.

MEPs will be back tomorrow at 08.00 BST, when they will debate EU infrastructure spending.

Human rights debates follow on Zambia, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

At the voting session, they will vote on a non-binding motion on EU migrant quotas and widening access to online TV abroad.

MEPs debate relations with Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland

Fishing boat
PA

Finally tonight MEPs are debating trade relations between the EU and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

In an oral question, MEPs express concern about higher tariffs that Norway put on certain cheeses, lamb and beef back in 2013.

They consider the higher duties a breach of the bilateral agreement the country has with the European Economic Area (EEA) and want the Commission to take action to resolve it.

They will also debate plans to renew EU fisheries protocols with all three countries, which will be put to a vote tomorrow morning.

Commission 'shares concerns' on Bangladesh

Debate on rights pact with Bangladesh

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Cecilia Malmstrom
EBS

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says she shares the "concerns" expressed by MEPs about labour standards in Bangladesh.

She says there have been "some positive signals" from the country in this regard - including the retraction of a law on exporting zones which she says contravened International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.

She adds that the EU has made it "very clear" to the authorities there that they expect progress on labour standards.

She adds that she hopes "we don't have to use" the bloc's GSP regulation - which would allow the withdrawal of Bangladesh's preferential access to EU markets - but the situation will be monitored closely.

MEPs discuss rights pact with Bangladesh

Mourners mark the fourth anniversary of the disaster
EPA
Mourners recently marked the fourth anniversary of the disaster

MEPs are now debating the EU’s “sustainability compact” with Bangladesh – an agreement which promotes better working conditions in the country’s textiles sector.

The EU signed the agreement in 2013, after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in which over a thousand people died.

A delegation of MEPs from the international trade committee who have just returned from the country have said they have concerns about how the compact is being implemented.

In an oral question, they have said the Bangladeshi authorities “often” fail to punish crimes against trade unionists and improving labour rights “remain a challenge”.

They have asked the EU Commission whether it considers the country is violating the terms of its trade arrangements with the EU, under which preferential trade terms are offered in return for commitments to improve human rights.

MEPs debate impact of EU-Korea trade deal

Hamburg port
Getty Images

MEPs are now debating a draft report from the international trade committee on the EU’s trade deal with South Korea, which has been applied since 2011 and fully came into force two years ago.

The agreement eliminated tariffs on most products – except some food products – and also contained some rules to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade.

The EU Commission says it wants to amend the deal to include additional rules on investment protection.

The trade committee’s report – to be voted on tomorrow – says the agreement has led to “significant growth” between the two parties.

However it also said some technical barriers to trade remain in certain areas, for example over intellectual property rights.

Commission 'has understood' complaints on cabotage rules

Debate on new EU transport rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan tells MEPs that the Commission is mulling new recommendations on extending the scope of environmental charges to passenger cars and buses.

He adds that greater compatibility of national charging systems would make it easier for those who choose to do so to roll out this policy across several countries.

He says that the Commission has "understood" the feedback it has received from various parties that the current EU rules on cabotage are "too difficult to enforce".

MEPs debate new EU transport rules

Motorway traffic
PA

MEPs have been joined by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to debate a forthcoming review of EU rules relating to the road haulage and transport sectors.

A draft motion to be voted on tomorrow calls for “ambitious” carbon dioxide reduction standards for trucks and buses.

It will also call for future legislation to clarify rules for “cabotage” – when drivers work in another EU state whilst making deliveries there.

EU rules say drivers posted temporarily away from home should be guaranteed the minimum conditions and pay in the host nation – but critics say firms can exploit loopholes in the law.

Extra checks 'in place for a reason' - MEP

Debate on extra border checks

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Gerard Deprez
EBS

Belgian Liberal Gerard Deprez says that there have clearly been "some difficulties" in introducing the extra checks at certain borders.

However he says that "waiting for fifteen minutes is not unbearable" and the extra checks are "in place for a reason".

Greek Syriza MEP Kostas Chrysogonos says that border checks should not "go too far" or impose a cost on national governments that might lead them to run down national security systems.

MEPs debate implementation of extra Schengen checks

Helsinki airport
Reuters

Digital Single Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip remains with MEPs to debate implementation of checks at the external border of the passport-free Schengen area.

Under new rules introduced last month, holders of EU passports are checked against the Interpol stolen and lost travel documents database (SLTD) and Schengen Information System (SIS).

The new system also applies to non-EU nationals leaving the Schengen zone.

The aim is that extra checks will make it easier to determine someone’s identity and whether they are a potential security threat.

Greek MEP: Rules will aid digital market in EU

Debate on access to online TV services

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Giorgos Grammatikis
BBC

Greek social democrat Giorgos Grammatikis says the new rules are an "excellent idea" that will contribute to the development of a European digital market.

Estonian Liberal Kaja Kallas expresses support as well, saying no one is prevented from taking a DVD across a border and this should apply online as well.

She adds that she hopes "many" public broadcasters take up the opportunity to offer greater access, and that firms use user-friendly means - such as e-IDs - to verify the location of customers.

MEPs disagree on new access rules

Debate on access to online TV services

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Julia Reda
EBS

German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda says that consumers would be willing to pay an estimated €1bn in order to have greater access to their subscriptions across Europe.

She adds that this is revenue effectively being denied to European filmmakers and TV companies.

However French Front National Gilles Lebreton says he will vote against the new rules tomorrow, saying that "geoblocking" content is a matter of national sovereignty.

He also says the time period during which people will be able to access content abroad has not been adequately defined, meaning greater access may become "the rules and not the exception".

MEPs express support for new rules

Debate on access to online TV services

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sabine Verheyen
EBS

German Christian democrat Sabine Verheyen, who sits on the assembly's culture committee, says the new law is a "good compromise".

The new rules will permit companies to use various systems to verify their users' identities, without the demands being too intrusive on their personal data, she adds.

Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim also gives his backing to the new law, adding it will give people access abroad to paid content that "rightfully belongs to them".

Ansip urges MEPs to back new rules

Debate on access to online TV services

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Andrus Ansip
EBS

Digital Single Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip tells MEPs that there is clearly an appetite for internet users to be able to access paid-for content when abroad.

He says this is revealed by surveys which show the use of virtual private networks - or VPNs - to bypass national restrictions on accessing online services.

He adds that he is glad a compromise on the legislation has been reached, and urges MEPs to back the text at the vote tomorrow.

MEPs debate access rules for online TV

Netflix displayed on screen
Reuters

MEPs are now debating legislation which would allow people who have paid for online TV content to access it all over the EU.

The new law would require TV companies to offer access to paid-for online services to customers if they are in a different EU member state for “a limited period of time”.

Under the rules, broadcasters will have to conduct checks to verify a user’s normal country of residence before access is allowed.

Broadcasters such as the BBC whose income depends on a licence fee can offer their subscribers access if they set up a verification scheme. However, they will not be required to do so.

MEPs have agreed a compromise on the new regulations with national ministers that they will put to a final vote tomorrow. The rules are expected to come into force in the first half of next year.

Split over ECB powers

Debate on ECB accountability

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Another German conservative, Bernd Lucke, says there should be some sort of mechanism for "controlling" the activities of the ECB.

However Portuguese Liberal Antonio Marinho e Pinto argues that the ECB's powers in fact need to be strengthened and extended.

This is "the only way that banks will be put back to serve those they were intended to serve", he adds.

Antonio Marinho e Pinto
EBS

Italian MEP: 'Broad majority' for ECB independence

Debate on ECB accountability

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Roberto Gualtieri
BBC

Italian social democrat Roberto Gualtieri, who chairs the econmic affairs committee, mounts a defence of the ECB, adding that "a broad majority" of MEPs support its independence.

He adds that the Bank's quantitative easing (QE) policies "have been a success", with the positive effects outstripping the negative ones.

However Belgian Sander Loones, from the conservative Flemish national party, says that QE is "monetary hocus pocus" that erodes savings and does not lead to sustainable growth.

'No reason' to question ECB mandate - Maltese minister

Debate on ECB accountability

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Carmelo Abela
EBS

On behalf of Malta's EU presidency, Maltese Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela says the ECB has a mandate to pursue price stability across the eurozone as a whole.

He says studies have suggested this objective is better implemented when central banks are "shielded from short-term political influence".

He adds that the Council of the EU - in which national ministers meet to discuss policy - believes the level of accountability over the ECB is "commensurate with its independence".

He says ministers have "no reason to question" whether the Bank is operating outside its mandate or the role prescribed for it in the EU's treaties.

MEP: Draghi 'must be held accountable'

Debate on ECB accountability

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joachim Starbatty
EBS

German Conservative Joachim Starbatty says that ECB chief Mario Draghi is the "most important man in the eurozone", whose decisions affect millions of people.

He says the Bank's quantitative easing programme and low interest rates have had consequences for which he "needs to be accountable".

He suggests that ECB policy of undermining the viability of pension funds and "expropriating" savers.

The European Parliament is "choosing not to see" what is happening, he adds.

Good afternoon

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

First up this afternoon, MEPs are debating their powers to hold the European Central Bank (ECB) to account.

ECB headquarters in Frankfurt
EPA
The ECB is headquartered in Frankfurt

Votes end - short speeches begin

That’s today’s voting session finished – MEPs now have the chance to make short speeches explaining how they voted.

After this there will be a break, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 BST with a debate on the powers of the European Central Bank (ECB).

MEPs call for EU action over Hungarian university law

Voting session

Student protests in Budapest
Reuters
The new law has prompted student protests in Budapest

By 393 votes to 221 and 64 abstentions, MEPs pass a motion calling on the EU to consider action against Hungary over a new law threatening the future of the English-speaking Central European University (CEU).

New rules introduced by the governing right-wing Fidesz party mean the CEU would be unable to award diplomas because it is registered in the US.

The text says the EU would be justified in launching Article 7 of the EU’s treaties over the matter, which could eventually be used to suspend a country’s voting rights.

The Article 7 procedure has never been used and can only be undertaken with unanimous support from the other EU countries.

A rival motion from the centre-right EPP, which does not say the Article 7 procedure would be justified, is defeated.

MEPs approve EU retraining grant for Finnish workers

Voting session

MEPs give their backing to proposals to make €2.6m available to help 821 ICT workers in Finland who were made redundant by Nokia and three of its suppliers.

The grant, which still has to be officially signed off by national ministers, comes from the EU’s “globalisation adjustment” fund.

The UK has never applied to the fund, saying that the money would duplicate existing British schemes.

Vote result
EBS

Guterres: Some states losing moral authority over migration

Speech from UN Secretary-General

European Parliament

Strasbourg

António Guterres
BBC

Mr Guterres calls for agreement to bring an end to the civil war in Syria, which he says "nobody is winning" and "everybody is losing".

He tells the hemicycle that the promotion of human rights has been "losing ground to the national sovereignty agenda" - but adds that the two ideas need not be incompatible.

However he warns that "several countries" - which he does not name specifically - have seen their moral authority to lead on human rights issues "undermined" by their response the migration crisis.

On economic issues, he says that globalisation has "left a lot of people behind" - and that a lack of employment for young people in certain countries is aiding the recruitment of terrorists.

UN chief warns on changing nature of war

Speech from UN Secretary-General

European Parliament

Strasbourg

António Guterres
BBC

António Guterres begins with praise for both the UN and EU, which he says have been the "most successful" peace-sustaining organisations set up after the Second World War.

He says he appreciates the EU's emphasis on development co-operation and humanitarian aid.

He adds that the nature of war has changed considerably - away from conflicts between states, and more towards internal wars "more and more linked" to the threat of global terrorism.

Strengthening "multilateral capacity" to prevent future conflict, will be "essential", he adds.

MEPs to hear speech from UN chief

António Guterres
Reuters

That’s the debate on the forthcoming G7 summit finished. MEPs are now taking their seats to hear a speech from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Mr Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, was appointed to the role last October and took office at the beginning of this year.

He was also head of the UNHCR refugee agency from 2005 to 2015, during some of the world's worst refugee crises, including those in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

MEPs set out summit ambitions

Debate on G7 summit preparations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sean Kelly
BBC

Irish Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly says that if the United States were to pull out of the Paris climate deal, it would "undermine it completely".

The US, "above all else", must be expected to implement the deal, he adds.

Dutch social democrat Jeppe Kofod says the EU must also push for the implementation of the UN's new set of sustainable development targets.

MEPs highlight EU-US relationship

Debate on G7 summit preparations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sven Giegold
BBC

German Green MEP Sven Giegold says it is "deeply worrying" to see the United States "withdrawing from key aspects of international co-operation".

Portuguese centre-right MEP Paulo Rangel says the summit will prove to be a "moment of truth" for the EU's relationship with big countries such as the United States, Canada and Japan.

He says the bloc should push President Donald Trump to be "firm on Russia" with "no ambiguity".

Abela: EU should 'better communicate' benefits of trade

Debate on G7 summit preparations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Carmelo Abela
BBC

On behalf of Malta's EU presidency, Maltese Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela tells MEPs that international co-operation can "no longer be taken for granted".

He says the aim of the summit must be to keep the global economy open and continue multi-lateral co-operation between states.

He says the EU will continue to push for "balanced" trade agreements, and must "better communicate" the benefits of trade to the public.

He adds that the bloc will also retain "ownership" over the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

MEPs debate G7 summit

That's the debate on the EU's Brexit guidelines finished. 

MEPs are now debating EU preparations for the forthcoming G7 summit in Italy, beginning later this month. 

Barnier: Irish border will require 'unique solution'

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Michel Barnier
BBC

Michel Barnier picks up on some of the points made during the debate, saying the EU's demand for a financial settlement is "not an exit bill" but an agreement on shared liabilities. 

He tells MEPs that finding a solution on the Irish border that does not call into question the integrity of the single market will require a "unique solution". 

Echoing comments earlier from Donald Tusk, he adds that the EU will not accept a trade deal with the UK that leads to "unfair competition" or a lowering of EU social standards. 

He adds that "the clock is ticking" and there is "not much time ahead of us". 

Barnier defends sequencing of Brexit talks

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Michel Barnier
BBC

European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the uncertainty on the Irish border, citizens' rights and money should be removed as soon as possible. 

"The sequencing isn't there to create problems", he adds - but is necessary to create the "foundation of trust" required to negotiate the future relationship. 

He adds that the negotiations should begin "as soon as possible" after the general election next month, which he says should give "stability" to the UK side. 

He says the EU is committed to transparency and he will make himself available to UK institutions, including Parliament, to give information before negotiating rounds.

MEPs criticise UK government approach

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Richard Corbett
BBC

Labour MEP Richard Corbett says the EU's recently-agreed guidelines spell out the main issues for the negotiations "much more clearly than anything the British government has produced".

He says that, nearly a year on from the vote, there is no clarity from the UK on issues such as participation in the customs union and EU technical agencies. 

German social democrat Jens Geier says he has been shocked by how "unprepared and irresponsible" British politicians have been on the Brexit issue.

He adds that they have also failed to "tell the truth" that "you can't keep all the advantages of the EU and leave it at the same time." 

Lib Dem calls for early deal on citizens' rights

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Catherine Bearder
BBC

The Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder calls for swift resolution of the issue of UK and EU citizens' rights, calling the uncertainty of the current situation "intolerable". 

"This is about treating people with dignity", she adds.

She calls on the UK government to "stop blaming and start acting governmental".

She suggests that, outside the formal exit deal, a "right to reside agreement" should be agreed and proclaimed as soon as possible.  

Farage: UK will walk away without 'reasonable' EU demands

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Nigel Farage
BBC

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the recent leak of details of Jean-Claude Juncker's dinner with Theresa May to a German newspaper was "bloody rude" and the "act of a bully".

However he says EU tactics are "not working", claiming 68% now want Brexit to go ahead.

He calls reported demands for a €100m exit bill a "ludicrous ransom", adding: 

Either we get some grown-up, reasonable demands from the European Union or the United Kingdom will be forced to walk away before the end of this year."

Green MEP: EU 'not naive' over Brexit

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, the co-leader of the Green/EFA group, says the European Parliament and EU leaders are "to a large extent" agreed on the way forward for the talks. 

The guidelines, he adds, are not designed to seek revenge on the UK, but are also "not naive".  

Philippe Lamberts
BBC

Verhofstadt: Brexit must spark EU reform

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group and is also the Parliament's chief Brexit spokesman, says it would be a mistake for the bloc to put "all" its energy into the negotiations. 

He says that EU must put as much energy into reforming its own structures, and creating a "new future for Europe". 

He adds that it would be a mistake to think what he calls "populism and nationalism" have been defeated because of recent elections in Europe. 

MEP repeats demand for ECJ rights enforcement

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the Socialist and Democrat group, Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri says that rights granted to existing EU citizens in the UK should apply for their lifetimes. 

He reiterates that this must also include provisions for the recognition of qualifications and claiming social security, and should be enforced by the EU's Court of Justice. 

Roberto Gualtieri
BBC

Weber: Farage 'cowardly' over not seeking election as MP

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
BBC

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says he supports the general principles for talks set out by EU leaders. 

He adds that his group also supports "keeping families together" - particularly with regard to the situation in Ireland.

He takes a swipe at Nigel Farage, sitting opposite, calling UKIP "politically dead" and branding his decision not to stand for election in Westminster "cowardly". 

Juncker: EU 'united and prepared' for Brexit talks

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jean-Claude Juncker
BBC

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the speed with which the EU's guidelines were agreed at the meeting last month shows how "united and prepared" it is for talks. 

The Brexit talks, he adds, are now  "in the hands of our capable divorce lawyers". 

Tusk: EU will need 'safeguards' in trade deal

Debate on EU Brexit guidelines

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Donald Tusk
BBC

European Council President Donald Tusk says the guidelines will be updated "as necessary" as talks get underway, and will be made "more precise" when the time comes. 

He adds that the principle of a phased approach to talks was "fully supported" by EU leaders.

He says that the first priority in the early stage will be obtaining an "enforceable" deal on citizens' rights, followed by the issues of money and how to avoid a hard Irish border. 

He warns that any future trade deal with the UK will need to contain "safeguards" for the EU against "unfair" regulatory advantages.