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Summary

  1. MEPs debate EU leaders' summit later this month
  2. They also debate US withdrawal from Paris climate deal
  3. MEPs hear speech from Ivory Coast President
  4. Maltese PM Joseph Muscat defends himself over tax allegations

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

That's it from this evening's sitting - MEPs will be back tomorrow at 08.00, when they will first be debating a European Commission target to boost the role of industry in the EU economy.

After that they will debate this month's three human rights motions, which they will vote on during the day's voting session at lunchtime.

MEP in 'misuse' warning on funding rules

Debate on funding of EU political groups

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jan Zahradil
EP

German Christian democrat Rainer Wieland says the current rules are not effective and should be revised.

However Czech conservative Jan Zahradil says the requirement linking funding to respect for values must not be "misused" for political purposes.

He says he hopes any revision will not end up being used against parties who oppose the "federalist orthodoxy" of the EU institutions.

Final debate on funding for European groups begins

MEPs move to their final debate tonight, which is on the funding arrangements for EU-wide political groups and foundations.

Last year a number of MEPs said the Parliament should stop paying €600,000 in grants to the far-right Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) group.

The leaders of the Parliament’s three largest political groups have called for a review of the arrangements to ensure recipients respect the EU’s “fundamental values”.

Tomorrow MEPs are due to vote on a draft motion calling for the funding rules to be revised, and for funding to only be given to groups in line with the “principles” of the EU.

MEPs debate investment rules in ports

Economic Affairs and Taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stays with MEPs for the next debate tonight, which is on the taxation of ports and compatibility with EU state aid rules.

Beginning the debate, Mr Moscovici says new EU rules on investment have given greater flexibility when it comes to public investment in ports.

However, he says the EU executive still has a duty to enforce "fair competition".

Barcelona port
Reuters

MEPs debate 'sharing economy' and fake news

Warsaw tax drivers protest about Uber
EPA
Warsaw is the latest EU city to have seen protests from taxi drivers about Uber

The next debate tonight is on two draft reports from the Parliament’s internal market committee.

The first urges EU countries to provide “legal clarity” on the status of companies in the so-called sharing economy – but says regulation of new industries should not be “restrictive”.

Technological changes in various sectors have prompted legal uncertainty about the status of people working for firms like taxi-hailing app Uber.

The second asks the European Commission to consider EU legislation to force internet companies to do more to stop “fake news” spreading on social media platforms.

Debate on child poverty begins

Children in Gorton area of Manchester
Getty Images

Commissioner Moscovici will stay with MEPs as they move to their next debate, which is on levels of child poverty in the EU.

According to the latest data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, around a quarter of children in the bloc were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” in 2015 – the highest of any age group.

Commission 'aware of concerns' on foreign investment

Debate on foreign investment in Europe

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has said the EU has "always welcomed" foreign investment and should continue to do so.

However, he says the Commission is aware of "growing concerns" about the high level of investment - particularly from state-owned companies - in critical industries.

Whilst not naming any county in particular, he says this investment often comes from countries where European firms "do not enjoy the same rights to invest".

He says the Commission is currently assessing EU rules in this area.

MEPs debate foreign investment in Europe

Hinkley Point C
Reuters
Chinese financing of a new UK nuclear power station has caused controversy

Next up, Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici remains with MEPs for a debate about investment from non-EU countries in critical infrastructure.

Foreign investment into Europe from China in particular reached record levels last year, prompting some concern about investment in strategic industries such as energy.

Some have called for the EU to have a screening mechanism for such foreign investment, similar to the system which exists in countries such as the US, Australia and Japan.

MEP criticises lack of spending on 'social' projects

Debate on EU investment plan

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Liadh ni Riada
EBS

Irish Sinn Fein MEP Liadh ni Riada criticises what she calls "chasing after private money" as the emphasis of the scheme.

She also says the amount lent to projects in "the social sphere", at 4%, is too low.

Dutch Green Bas Eickhout says that, until the scheme has been reviewed, it was "all very unclear" to what extent the plan was funding projects that would have found funding anyway.

He says an upcoming revision of the legislation enabling the lending should be used as an opportunity to review areas such as this.

MEP calls for greater 'visibility' from plan

Debate on EU investment plan

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jose Manuel Fernandes
EBS

Portuguese centre-right MEP Jose Manuel Fernandes says the investment plan has made the EU economy more competitive, and its extension to 2020 is a sign of its success.

However he says the plan is "not as visible as it should be".

Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici says an analysis of investment in comparison to national GDP "balances" the initial impression given on where the money has headed.

MEPs debate EU investment scheme

Construction site in France
Reuters

MEPs are now debating a report from two of Parliament’s committees on the EU’s flagship investment programme, which aims to boost private investment in the EU after the financial crisis.

The scheme was set up in 2015, having been announced by Jean-Claude Juncker shortly after the present European Commission took office.

It does so by using a certain amount from the EU budget and money raised by the European Investment Bank to stimulate financing for infrastructure projects and loans for businesses.

The MEPs’ report says richer EU states have been the overwhelming beneficiaries of the loans from the scheme so far, and more needs to be done for central and eastern European countries.

Muscat: MEPs 'sourcing facts from social media'

Debate on tax avoidance and rule of law in Malta

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joseph Muscat
EBS

Maltese PM Joseph Muscat is back on his feet again to sum up the debate.

In relation to cases connected to the Panama Papers, he says four independent judicial investigations are taking place and "resignations will be in order" if they conclude wrongdoing.

He accuses some MEPs of "sourcing their facts from social media" - and says he will be appearing before the Panama Papers committee, after the judicial inquiry relating to him is finished.

On the issue of Malta's tax system, he says that "some might not like it" but it is OECD compliant and has undergone scrutiny from various bodies.

He also says it is "not true" to say Malta's economy is dependent on financial services, stating:

We're not a mailbox economy"

MEPs keep concerns over Malta

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Eva Joly
EBS

French Green MEP and onetime presidential candidate Eva Joly also says that questions remain over Mr Muscat's government, despite the prime minister's recent re-election.

She adds that Malta must do more to show it is not a "tax haven within the EU".

Polish centre-right MEP Dariusz Rosati, who sits on Parliament's special inquiry committee into the Panama Papers leak, says it is "worrying" that Konrad Mizzi, as well as the prime minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri, have kept government positions whilst inquiries into their affairs are ongoing.

Both were named in the Panama Papers documents.

Keeping them in the government sends a "bad signal" to public opinion.

Malta rule of law 'not in danger' - MEP

Debate on tax avoidance and rule of law in Malta

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Alfred Sant
EBS

Maltese MEP Alfred Sant, who is from the same Labour party as Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, says there is "no basis" to say the rule of law in the country is in danger.

He notes that inquiries into corruption allegations are proceeding in independence and that Mr Muscat has pledged to respect the results of the judicial investigation implicating him.

The justification for holding today's debate is "non existent", he adds.

Top MEP: 'Questions remain' over Maltese minister

Debate on tax avoidance and rule of law in Malta

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
EBS

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says the "substance" of today's debate centres on the fact he still has a minister in his government who was named in the Panama Papers leaks last year.

Joseph Muscat has kept former energy minister Konrad Mizzi in government despite the fact he was named in the leak of a huge cache of documents from the Panamian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

"You won the election, but the questions are still on the table," he says.

Maltese MP defends anti-corruption record

Debate on tax avoidance and rule of law in Malta

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Joseph Muscat
EBS

Joseph Muscat begins with a summary of action taken in Malta to enforce the rule of law in recent years, including new anti-corruption legislation and a whistleblowers' act.

He says that after "years of damning reports" from the Council of Europe, the country has now strengthened its party financing laws.

He adds that his government is also investigating whether to remove immunity from Maltese parliamentarians.

Maltese PM joins MEPs for tax avoidance debate

Joseph Muscat and his family
AFP
Mr Muscat was sworn back in last week

MEPs have now been joined by newly re-elected Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for a debate on corruption allegations that led him to call a snap election last month.

He and his wife deny claims she owned a secret offshore company in Panama.

The issue of the company, alleged to have received payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family, was first brought to light by a well known Maltese blogger.

A judicial investigation is under way into the allegations of improper business transactions by his wife, Michelle, and associates.

Mr Muscat rejected opposition calls to step down and has described the allegations as "the mother of all lies".

EU 'driven apart' over attitudes to national democracy

Debate on EU values in policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Beatrix von Storch
EBS

German conservative Beatrix von Storch says that pro-EU politicians treat those who believe in national democracy as "undemocratic".

"That is what is driving us apart," she says.

She says the EU should be founded on "Christian values", although she notes that a plan to allude to this in the prelude to the (aborted) EU constitution drawn up over a decade ago was eventually dropped.

Timmermans: EU should promote 'open' societies

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Frans Timmermans
EBS

European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans says it is difficult to promote European solutions at the moment, at a time "where identity politics roams".

He says strengthening European values informed the European Commission's recent white paper on the future of the EU, which should serve as a "starting point" for debate.

The EU should be on the side of choosing "open" societies, he adds.

Liberal MEP: Values 'key to strong EU'

Debate on EU values in policy

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Dutch Liberal Sophia in't Veld says that European politicians have been "wary" of explaining that the EU is a political project, instead preferring to present it as a "technocratic entity".

This means that the EU's response to increased uncertainty about questions of culture and identity has "not been adequate".

She accuses "populist" political parties of seeking to "reject pluralism" in questions of identity.

Values, she says, are "the key" to a strong EU - adding that a belief in the rule of law, for example, is crucial for the effective functioning of the single market.

Sophia in't Veld
EBS

Welcome back

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

The sitting will be getting back underway shortly, when MEPs will be joined by European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans to debate ways to better promote "values" within EU policies.

This is a topical debate chosen by the Liberal ALDE political group under a new parliamentary rule.

Short speeches begin

That’s the voting session finished. MEPs will now be able to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

Following this there will be a break for lunch, after which MEPs will resume at 14.00 BST with a debate on a topical debate on relaunching the EU.

MEPs call for investigation into DR Congo violence

Voting session

UN troops in DR Congo
Reuters

MEPs also pass a motion calling for an independent UN inquiry committee to investigate violence in the province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The government of President Joseph Kabila has been fighting the Kamuina Nsapu militia in the region.

The country has been plunged into a constitutional crisis since President 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.

MEPs back report on pension inequality

Voting session

MEPs also back a non-binding report from the women’s rights committee on the gap in pensions between men and women.

The report recommends that the European Commission works with national governments to draw up an EU-wide strategy for reducing disparities.

It also urges “systematic” monitoring of how member states are applying EU gender discrimination laws, with legal action to be taken against states for non-compliance.

Vote result
EBS

MEPs back rules to implement 2030 climate targets

Voting session

Combine harvester
PA

MEPs kick off the voting session by taking an initial position on legislation for setting out new carbon reduction targets for sectors not covered by the EU’s carbon trading scheme.

Formal talks on the legislation with national ministers will now begin.

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.

President calls for support on migration and climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Alassane Ouattara
BBC

Alassane Ouattara tells MEPs that there is an "urgent need" to implement the terms of the Paris climate agreement, and that Europe must "show us the way".

The question is of making a reality of an "historic opportunity", he adds.

A second big theme of his speech is migration management, where he says there is a need for "greater solidarity" between African and European countries.

This needs to include an end to the conflict in Libya, as well as efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment in Africa.

He says it must also be borne in mind that flows of people within different countries in Africa is greater than the flow of people to Europe.

MEPs to hear speech from Ivory Coast President

That’s the debate on the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement finished. MEPs will shortly be taking their seats for today’s voting session.

Before that, MEPs will be hearing a speech from Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara.

Greens send 'birthday wishes' to Trump

Green MEPs group tweets:

MEP calls for example to be set on climate goals

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Kathleen van Brempt
BBC

Belgian Socialist Kathleen van Brempt says the EU should "not be afraid" about the US withdrawal, and should "stand united".

The Paris agreement should be implemented in full, she says.

She adds that MEPs will be able to set an early example later today, when they are due to take an initial position on legislation for implementing the EU's 2030 climate targets.

The new law will cover sectors not covered by the EU’s carbon trading scheme, including most means of transport and the agricultural sector, as well as buildings.

Pitella calls on MEPs to 'stop the Trump disaster'

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Gianni Pitella
BBC

German Christian democrat Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, is first out of the traps among MEPs in criticising the withdrawal decision.

The decision to pull out, he says, will not save a single American job.

The leader of the Socialist and Democrat group, Italian MEP Gianni Pitella, says he "didn't think there could be anyone worse than George Bush" but, he says, he was wrong.

He calls on the EU to unite to "stop the Trump disaster in its tracks".

Juncker: EU 'will not renegotiate' Paris deal

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jean-Claude Juncker
BBC

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the US decision to withdraw from the agreement is a "sign of abdication" in common action in dealing with "the common fate of the planet".

However, he says the withdrawal has left the rest of the world "more united" in its resolve.

He says that the decision will not see an end to the agreement, and that the EU "will not renegotiate" any of the 29 articles of which it is constituted, adding:

Now is the time for action, now is the time for implementation."

Maltese minister - US approach 'still unclear'

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Helena Dalli
BBC

Maltese minister Helena Dalli tells MEPs that the withdrawal announcement was "highly regrettable".

She says that the decision has been taken "in the face of many convincing arguments" about the benefits of the deal, which she describes as "fit for purpose".

The details of what the US approach will now be are "still unclear", she adds.

She says that the EU must now "minimise the consequences" of the decision.

Marshall Islands President criticises US over withdrawal

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Hilda Heine
b

The debate is opened by Hilda Heine, who has since last year been President of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.

The islands, which were occupied by the US for several decades after World War II but are now a sovereign nation, have seen their very existence threatened by climate change.

"Climate change is not a hoax," she tells MEPs, adding that without reductions in greenhouse gases her country and others "risk becoming completely uninhabitable".

Calling the US decision to withdraw "at best misguided", she says she is nevertheless "cautiously optimistic" about the prospects of "changing hearts and minds".

"No one else is walking away," she adds.

EU commitment to deal 'must not relent' - Tajani

Debate on US withdrawal from climate deal

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
BBC

Somewhat unusually, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani begins the debate.

He says that whilst the assembly "regrets" the decision of the United States to withdraw from the agreement, the EU's commitment to the deal "must not relent".

The deal, he adds, is an example of big and small countries uniting for a "higher cause".

MEPs to debate US withdrawal from climate deal

Trump after a press conference
Reuters

The debate on the EU leaders' summit comes to an end.

Next up, MEPs are debating President Trump’s recent announcement that he will be withdrawing the United States from the UN’s Paris climate agreement.

He pledged to negotiate a new deal on terms “that are fair to the United States” – either by re-entering the accord or through an “entirely new transaction”.

Under the terms of the agreement, a formal withdrawal request could be made in November 2019 and would come into effect a year later.

The US contributes about 15% of global emissions of carbon, but it is also a significant source of finance and technology for developing countries in their efforts to fight rising temperatures.

MEP urges 'ambitious' reform of EU's Dublin rules

Debate on EU leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tanja Fajon
BBC

Slovenian social democrat Tanja Fajon turns to migration, telling MEPs that without an "ambitious" shake-up of the EU's Dublin rules, the situation in Greece and Italy could "get out of control".

The current Dublin regulation requires refugees to claim asylum in the member state in which they arrive, a system that has broken down during the migration crisis.

Last year the European Commission announced plans to replace the current rules with a permanent quota system for redistributing asylum seekers, backed up with fines for countries that failed to take their calculated share.

However national ministers have not yet reached agreement on a revision of the rules.

Farage: Theresa May 'in weak position'

Debate on EU leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Nigel Farage
BBC

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tells MEPs that they would be wrong to view last week's election results "as a victory", pointing out that 85% of voters opted for parties committed to leaving the EU.

He says that the "only certainty" after the result is that "we will be leaving".

He adds that despite a "big drive" from former polticians to get the UK to now opt for "a Norway-style option", that "the people have made it perfectly clear" that they wish to leave both the single market and the customs union.

He says that Theresa May should re-commit to leaving both at the summit later this month, predicting that otherwise "her own party will get rid of her".

She is now in a "weak position" going into the talks, he adds.

Tory-DUP deal 'endangers Good Friday Agreement' - MEP

Debate on EU leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

German MEP Gabriele Zimmer, who leads the left-wing GUE group housing Sinn Fein's MEPs, says the Conservative's proposed deal with the DUP "endangers" the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK government is "supposed to be impartial" in brokering power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland, she adds.

Gabriele Zimmer
BBC

Verhofstadt: 'Clear answers' needed from UK

Debate on EU leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group and is also the Parliament's chief Brexit spokesman, says that last week's general election shows the "disappearance of UKIP".

He adds that, one year on from the referendum result, "clear answers" are still needed from the UK government on matters such as citizens' rights how to maintain the Good Friday Agreement.

He calls on the Conservative party to put the national interest above party considerations, adding: "this is not about the Tories leaving the European Union".

He says the government must now says whether it plans to take the result "into account" in a new negotiating position, compared to the "hard talk" of the Article 50 letter.

Weber: UK election result 'not good' for EU

Debate on EU leaders' summit

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
BBC

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, is the first to comment on the results of last week's elections in the UK.

He says the outcome was "not a good result" for the EU, as the UK now shows "disorientation" in contrast to increased stability in other parts of Europe.

"Theresa May gambled and she lost", he adds - adding that people in the UK are "rethinking" the priorities for Brexit talks.