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Summary

  1. MEPs debate revised EU energy efficiency labels for appliances
  2. They also debate a law implementing carbon reduction targets
  3. Debate on future eurozone reform during afternoon sitting
  4. Humanitarian situation in Yemen also discussed

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye & Coming up tomorrow

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

MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 BST, when they will first be debating the summit of EU leaders taking place in Brussels later this month.

After this, they will discuss the implications of Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Newly-elected Maltese PM Joseph Muscat will join MEPs in the afternoon to give his side of the story over corruption allegations that led him to call a snap election last month.

The country is coming to the end of its time in the six-month EU presidency.

MEPs debate Kosovo EU hopes

Finally tonight, MEPs will debate another report from the foreign affairs committee, this time on the EU membership prospects of Kosovo.

A landmark deal in 2013 paved the way for Kosovo to make progress towards EU accession – although it is not an official candidate.

Five EU states do not recognise the breakaway Balkans territory, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo’s membership bid depends on normalising ties with Serbia.

Relations may be complicated by the recent electoral success of Ramush Haradinaj, whose coalition of parties performed well in inconclusive parliamentary elections earlier this week.

Mr Haradinaj served as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the war with Serbia in 1998 and 1999.

He has been tried and acquitted twice at the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, although Serbia said it had further evidence involving civilian murders.

Ramush Haradinaj
Reuters
Mr Haradinaj has denied war crimes allegations and stepped down in 2005 to face the charges

MEPs debate report on Serbia's EU accession bid

Aleksandar Vucic
Reuters
Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, a former nationalist, now supports EU membership

Next up this evening, MEPs are debating a report from the foreign affairs committee about Serbia’s prospects of EU membership.

Since starting accession talks in 2014, Serbia has opened eight out of the total 35 chapters in its EU negotiations, and has provisionally completed two.

A European Commission report published last year praised the country’s economic progress but stressed the need to further reform the judiciary, improve protection of minorities and more success at fighting corruption.

The committee’s report expresses similar concerns, whilst also expressing concern about the country’s use of urgent procedures to adopt legislation.

MEPs debate freedom of speech guidelines

The Commissioner responsible for EU enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, joins MEPs as they move on to their next debate, which is on a review of the EU’s freedom of expression guidelines adopted in 2014.

MEPs repeat calls for EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia

European Parliament

Strasbourg

There's an outbreak of consensus, as MEPs from the Liberal ALDE, left-wing GUE and centre-right EPP group criticise EU countries that are selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

The country is leading a multinational coalition carrying out airstrikes against Houthi rebels.

German Christian democrat Barbara Lochbiler says states willing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia are "at risk of taking part in war crimes" against civilians.

The US is the largest international supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia. The UK and France are the main European suppliers, while Germany has also licensed arms exports to the kingdom.

The European Parliament backed a non-binding motion backing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia in February last year.

Barbara Lochbiler
BBC

EU 'biggest donor' in Yemen

Debate on humanitarian crisis in Yemen

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Christos Stylianides
EBS

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides says that at a recent aid conference in Geneva, the EU pledged €430m out of over €1bn in commitments.

This made the EU the biggest humanitarian donor in the crisis, he says.

However, he says the EU "cannot act alone" and will be pushing for a "truly concerted international effort" in the area.

He repeats the Commission's position that there will not be a military solution to the conflict, and calls for peace talks under a UN process to begin.

Debate begins on humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Hospital in Yemen
EPA
More than 8 million Yemenis lack access to safe drinking water

Commissioner Stylianides will stay with MEPs to debate the humanitarian situation in war-torn Yemen.

Two years of war between government forces and the rebel Houthi movement has left 18.8 million of Yemen's 28 million people needing humanitarian assistance and almost 7 million on the brink of famine.

More than half of the country's health facilities are no longer functioning, with almost 300 having been damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

The World Health Organization recently said there are over 100,000 suspected cases of cholera in the country, following the collapse of water and sanitation systems.

MEPs back EU involvement in DR Congo

Debate on instability in DR Congo

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Belgian Socialist Maria Arena says the effects of the transition agreement negotiated last year "have not yet been felt" and the government should stick to the commitment to hold new elections.

She backs "targeted" EU sanctions on individuals over rights abuse.

Spanish centre-right MEP Rosa Estaras Ferragut says all crimes should be investigated, and the EU should not be a bystander in trying to broker an end to the conflict.

Rosa Estaras Ferragut
EBS

Commissioner urges speedy investigations in DR Congo

Debate on instability in DR Congo

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commissioner Stylianides
EBS

Commissioner Stylianides says he is concerned with the "serious upsurge" in violence in DR Congo.

He says the succession agreement brokered by the Catholic Church last year remains the "only pathway" to a peaceful transition of power.

He calls for quick and independent investigation of possible war crimes - a matter, he says, the EU is "pursuing" with the country's government both bilaterally and in international organisations.

He says EU sanctions brought against nine government and security officials in May over alleged rights abuses could be lifted if they demonstrate they "have turned away from violence".

Such sanctions are not a replacement for justice, he adds.

MEPs debate instability in DR Congo

UN troops in DR Congo
Reuters
The UN operates a peacekeeping mission in the country

MEPs have now been joined by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides to debate the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

DR Congo has been plunged into a constitutional crisis since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after his term ended last year.

A succession deal brokered by the Catholic Church, that would see Mr Kabila hand over power by the end of this year, has failed to resolve the crisis.

A UN chief recently called for an investigation into massacres and crimes in the country’s central province of Kasai, where the government has been fighting the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

Irish MEP calls for trust in EU science agencies

Debate on EU chemical approvals process

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Estefania Torres Martinez
EBS
Spanish Podemos MEP Estefania Torres Martinez

Spanish Podemos MEP Estefania Torres Martinez accuses the European Commission of ignoring the precautionary principle in its suggestion that Glyphosate might be renewed for 10 years.

The controversy surrounding Glyphosate shows the EU is "dominated by agro-industry lobbies", she says.

However Irish Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness says the European Parliament should be "mindful" of the limited options for farmers.

She adds that MEPs also "need to be careful" about putting EU scientific bodies on trial - adding: "We do have to have trust in these agencies."

MEPs clash over chemical renewal

Debate on EU chemical approvals process

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Julie Reid
EBS

Dutch Green Bas Eickhout accuses the Commissioner Andriukaitis of "not paying attention" to the "huge scientific debate" on the safety of Glyphsiate since the 1980s.

He says the documents recently revealed in the US show Monsanto was "unduly influencing" studies that were later used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in its assessment.

He calls for a "good investigation" of the role of the European Commission, threatening "otherwise we'll do it ourselves".

However UKIP MEP Julie Reid says that the Glyphosate-based herbicides are currently a "necessary tool" for many farmers, and is "safer" than "earlier-used products".

She says that it should not be taken off the market in the absence of an alternative.

Commissioner defends 'strict' authorisation process

Debate on EU chemical approvals process

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Vytenis Andriukaitis
EBS

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis says that the legislation under which chemicals are authorised in the EU is "very strict".

He says the study by the UN agency raising doubts about the safety of Glyphosate was "fully considered" as part of the reviews by the EU agencies.

He says the agencies say the industry-funded research about which more has been revealed in the US "did not have an impact" on its overall assessment.

Food safety bodies in Japan, New Zealand and Australia have backed up the findings of the EU bodies that Glyphosate is probably not carcinogenic.

MEP: 'Lack of transparency' can undermine approvals process

Debate on EU chemical approvals process

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Miriam Dalli
EBS

Maltese social democrat Miriam Dalli says that despite conflicting accounts of the safety of Glyphosate, it is clear there are "serious doubts" over its safety.

She says that a "lack of transparency" over the approval mechanism, and the scientific research it is based on, can "erode public trust" in the process.

Calling for an "independent review" of the EU agencies' assessment, she says the chemical should not be allowed to be sold on the market until there is greater certainty about its safety.

MEPs debate approval of weedkiller chemical

Next up MEPs are debating the research studies used by the EU’s food safety and chemicals agencies to determine the safety of the herbicide Glyphosate.

The chemical’s safety certificate is due to expire by the end of the year. The European Commission is considering whether to extend it, which would allow its use to be authorised by national bodies.

MEPs on the environment committee say documents released during a US trial involving American agrochemical firm Monsanto “shed doubt” on the credibility of studies sponsored by the company.

The firm manufactures Roundup, a weed killer which has Glyphosate as a main ingredient.

According to the MEPs, the industry-sponsored research was used by the EU agencies as part of an evaluation that concluded Glyphosate was “unlikely” to be carcinogenic to humans.

This was in conflict with a study by the UN’s specialist cancer agency, which said the chemical may pose cancer risks.

German MEP mocks Commissioner over 'success' comments

German conservative MEP tweets:

Socialist MEP backs eurozone finance minister

Debate on future of the eurozone

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Another Portuguese MEP, the Socialist Maria João Rodrigues, says the eurozone is in need of what she calls a "proper fiscal capacity".

She lends her support to the idea that the eurozone should have its own finance minister, who could also double as a senior member of the European Commission.

She says this "makes sense" to her, but that the new position must be accountable to the European Parliament.

Portuguese MEP denounces 'neoliberal' eurozone

Debate on future of the eurozone

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Miguel Viegas
EBS

Catalan nationalist Ramon Tremosa i Balcells says the EU would be better off using political capital to push through existing reform proposals, before attempting new ones.

Miguel Viegas, from the Portuguese Communist party, says the current structure of the eurozone is "oppressive" and a vehicle to impose "neoliberal" monetary policy on participating countries.

Eurozone countries should regain control over their currencies and monetary policies, he says.

French MEP: Eurozone must be 'renewed'

Debate on future of the eurozone

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Francoise Grossetete
EBS

French centre-right MEP Francoise Grossetete says that "everything should be on the table" when it comes to changes for "renewing faith" in the single currency.

However, she says that it will also be important that promises made are actually kept.

But German conservative Joachim Starbatty says that sharing a single currency has caused eurozone countries to use the "wrong exchange rates".

Greater sharing of risk will not allow states to "overcome" this fact, he says.

Eurozone 'cannot wait for another crisis' - Commission

Debate on the future of the eurozone

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Valdis Dombrovskis
EBS

Euro and Social Dialogue Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis says that there is still a "lack of convergence" in several areas of the structure of the eurozone.

"We cannot wait for another crisis to act," he adds.

He outlines his support for an EU-wide deposit protection scheme - opposed by Germany - without which he says will not be "protected to the same extent" after changes to banking legislation.

He says that the European Semester scheme - by which the EU Commission monitors the debt and deficit levels of member states - should remain the "main platform" for co-ordinating policy.

MEPs to debate future of eurozone

Man carrying bag with Euro symbol on it
Reuters

Hello and welcome back to coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which will be resuming shortly.

First up this afternoon, MEPs will debate the European Commission’s recent paper about integration in the eurozone.

The paper, which does not have any legal force, suggested an earlier deadline for completing so-called banking union legislation.

It also floated ideas for a “European Monetary Fund” for emergency lending to countries during crises, and for a euro area Treasury for monitoring fiscal policies in the member states.

Short speeches follow

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

Following this there will be a break for lunch, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 BST with a debate on the Commission’s recent paper about integration in the eurozone.

MEPs approve report into Mediterranean fishing

Voting session

Fishing vessels
BBC

Finally, MEPs give their approval to another non-binding report, this time from the fisheries committee, which says the Mediterranean should continue to receive differential treatment under the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP).

The report says that this is because much of the sea is made up of international waters, in which non-EU fleets can have a “decisive” impact on fish stocks.

It also says that the EU needs to come up with a “common, detailed definitions” for small and artisanal fisheries in the CFP.

MEPs back report on research spending

Voting session

Laboratory researcher
AFP

MEPs approve a non-binding report from the industry and research committee about Horizon 2020, an EU budget line for research projects.

The budget is €80bn – it started in 2014 and will finish after 2020.

MEPs held a debate yesterday afternoon about the success of the current scheme.

The report urges EU countries to do more to meet a target of spending 3% of GDP – which currently only Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Austria are doing.

MEPs approve change to EU energy efficiency labels

Voting session

Dishwasher controls
BBC

MEPs have also approved a new EU system for labelling the energy efficiency of electrical appliances.

The new system was proposed by the European Commission in 2015, arguing it would better reflect recent increases in efficiency in a large range of appliances.

At the moment, the most efficient products can be labelled A+, A++ and A+++…a system which some have said consumers do not understand and find confusing.

Under the new plan agree with national ministers, these higher ratings would be scrapped, with the old system of a simple A-G rating being restored.

Details on the labelled products would also be put into an online database.

MEPs back change to reconstruction funding rules

Voting session

Earthquake damage in Italy
AFP
Earthquakes in Italy in January followed 36 hours of snowfall

MEPs give their backing to a change to legislation which would allow a higher EU co-financing rate for infrastructure projects started after natural disasters.

The change in the rules would allow the EU to provide more up-front financing towards reconstruction projects after the recent earthquakes in Italy.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to support the Commission’s proposed changes, which would allow the additional funds to be freed up from the EU’s Regional Development Fund.

Votes soon

With the Erasmus exchange scheme ceremony over, MEPs will now crack on with today’s series of votes.

Congratulations...

Antonio Tajani tweets

Celebrating Erasmus

European Parliament tweets

Gathering for a picture...

Director, DG Education tweets

Coming up...

European Parliament tweets

Student exchange ceremony to begin soon

With the debate on the new national carbon targets finished, MEPs will shortly be taking their seats for today’s voting session.

Before that, however, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will give awards to 33 students on the Erasmus exchange scheme, from 11.00 BST.

The ceremony is being held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the scheme, which now covers teacher training and apprenticeships as well as university exchanges.

MEP urges 'flexibility' for Irish farming sector

Debate on EU 2030 carbon targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Mairead McGuinness
BBC

Irish Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness says there should be an "acknowledgment" of the size of the agricultural sector to the Irish economy in the final proposals.

Although she says the country is not seeking an opt-out from the targets for the farming sector, the country needs "much more flexibility" when it comes to meeting them.

Under the text as amended by Parliament, she adds, the cost to Irish farmers of purchasing carbon allowances would rise to €1.7bn.

She is "all for ambition", she adds, but she tells MEPs that "unachievable" targets can be distracting.

MEP: EU should not criticise Trump 'for free'

Debate on EU 2030 carbon targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Bas Eickhout
BBC

Dutch Green Bas Eickhout says MEPs should not criticise Donald Trump "for free" for pulling out of the Paris deal, without questioning whether the EU is doing enough to reduce its own emissions.

MEPs are due to debate the US withdrawal tomorrow morning.

He says the headlines ambition in today's legislation, to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, is "not enough" to implement the Paris agreement.

Commissioner dismisses inclusion of 2050 targets

Debate on EU 2030 carbon targets

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Miguel Arias Canete
BBC

Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete says the compromise MEPs have reached with national ministers contains "many of the key elements" of the Commission's proposals.

However, he says he opposes amendments suggested by the Parliament to extend the reach of the legislation to include carbon reduction targets for 2050.

It is "too early" to set targets this far ahead into the future, he adds, without more information on efforts to meet the existing targets.

MEPs debate 2030 climate targets for certain sectors

Combine Harvester
PA

MEPs are now debating legislation for setting out new carbon reduction targets for sectors not covered by the EU’s carbon trading scheme.

The new targets would apply to areas responsible for around 60% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, including most means of transport and the agricultural sector, as well as buildings.

The new rules will translate the EU’s overall ambition – to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels – into national targets.

MEPs will take a position on the legislation tomorrow, ahead of formal negotiations with national ministers.

MEPs back labels database

Debate on EU energy labelling scheme

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sean Kelly
BBC

Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly says that incorrect labelling "should not be possible" given proper surveillance and fines, since regularly offending firms would go out of business.

He says that the new product database included in the regulation should make incorrect labelling less likely to happen.

French Socialist Edouard Martin also outlines his support for the new labelling system, adding that putting the information online will help consumers become "testers" of new products.

Tory group 'to support proposals'

Debate on EU energy labelling scheme

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ashley Fox
BBC

Ashley Fox, who leads the UK Conservative MEPs, says that, despite some initial concerns, his group is "happy" with Parliament's compromise agreement and will support it later at the vote.

As well as bringing an end to the "confusing" A+ labels, he says reverting to the old system will make it simpler for consumers to choose more efficient products.

He welcomes the idea in the regulation for a database on labelled products, which he says will add "vigour" to national market surveillance agencies.

He adds that he had reservations about the demands on manufacturers to provide information, but is satisfied that the obligations are limited to information required for monitoring.