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 review Malta's time in charge of EU presidency
  2. Jean-Claude Juncker blasts MEPs over poor turnout for morning debate
  3. MEPs give initial backing to new EU tax transparency rules
  4. Mariya Gabriel formally approved as new Bulgarian commissioner
  5. Next year's EU legislation and budget debated in afternoon

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & Coming up tomorrow

With that, tonight's sitting comes to an end.

MEPs will be back tomorrow at 08.00 BST, when they will be debating this week's G20 summit in Hamburg.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have pulled out to attend the funeral of former MEP Simone Veil.

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas will join MEPs to preview his country's EU presidency, which begins this month.

MEPs will set out their legislative wish-list for 2018 at a vote at lunchtime.

MEPs debate new powers to prosecute fraud

Finally tonight, MEPs are debating legislation that would introduce new definitions for offences against the EU budget.

The rule change is intended to make it easier to bring prosecutions against people who misuse EU funds or commit fraud.

The law, which will be put to a final vote tomorrow, will create new powers to be used by a new EU body to be set up by 16 member states.

The creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) had gridlocked for years due to opposition from national governments including the UK.

However, an EPPO will now be set up under an EU procedure which allows willing countries to seek greater ties.

Debate on UN General Assembly begins

Next MEPs are debating a motion with recommendations for the EU position at the forthcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly in September.

MEPs debate use of cultural ties in diplomacy

Next up tonight, MEPs are debating a motion from two parliamentary committees calling for the EU to make better use of culture in its diplomatic relations.

The report, whose recommendations are only advisory, advocates the creation of a cultural visa programme to allow certain non-EU nationals to travel to Europe.

It also calls for a section of the EU budget to be dedicated to “supporting international cultural relations”.

Mogherini: Rights 'integral' to EU-Cuba agreement

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Federica Mogherini
EBS

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says that relations between the EU and Cuba have seen a "step change" in recent years.

As well as facilitating more investment and building social ties, she says the new agreement will give rights groups in the country a "channel for dialogue and co-operation".

She seeks to assure MEPs that expectations on political rights are an "integral part" of the agreement.

MEP: EU should make Cuba 'open up'

Debate on EU-Cuba agreement

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tunne Kelam
EBS

Centre-right Estonian MEP Tunne Kelam says that, as a large trading partner, the EU is in a position to pressure Cuba into "opening up".

He says EU relations with non-democratic countries need to be based on a balance between boosting economic ties and improving rights - but this is "not yet there" in the case of Cuba.

He says that, despite in increase in exports, the situation regarding political rights in Cuba has not improved.

Right groups expect the EU to "take the side of the Cuban people", rather than the government, he says.

MEPs debate EU-Cuba agreement

Cuba"s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla signs an EU co-operation deal
AFP

MEPs are now debating EU relations with Cuba ahead of tomorrow’s vote on whether to ratify a co-operation agreement with the island.

The agreement, signed in late last year, has created a new legal framework for diplomatic relations but will not create a free trade zone or cover investment protection.

The EU had suspended its relations with Cuba after scores of dissidents were imprisoned in 2003 – although some EU nations such as Spain and France never severed ties.

Cuba agreed to normalise relations with the United States in 2014.

MEPs debate Saudi Arabia role on women's group

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides has joined MEPs to debate the recent election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The appointment of Saudi Arabia, in a secret ballot, has drawn criticism because of the country’s gender rights record.

The country strictly enforces a policy of gender segregation between unrelated men and women.

Its term is due to begin next year and last until 2022. It comes after the country was recently re-elected to the UN’s human rights council.

How is the EU budget set?

Piggy Bank
PA

The EU budget for each year must be within the limits specified by the long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which runs over a seven-year period.

Some have suggested that this should be reduced to five years to make it easier to reflect political priorities in how money is spent.

The European Parliament must approve the annual budgets before they can come into force.

The long process over setting the budget normally begins each spring, when the European Commission publishes its initial draft proposals.

The national governments then take an initial position, normally in the summer, before the Parliament adopts its stance in the autumn.

If there is a difference between the positions, then “conciliation” talks begin, where the various participants thrash out their differences behind closed doors.

National authorities should cut out EU 'middle man' - MEP

Debate on 2018 EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jonathan Arnott
EBS

UKIP's Jonathan Arnott says the EU budget is "much too high" and criticises money spent on "political" EU information campaigns and grants to candidate countries.

He says MEPs should ask whether money might be spent more effectively by "cutting out the middle man" and keeping the cash in the hands of national authorities to spend directly.

More should be done to assess those spending projects which have "actually added value" by being done at an EU level, he adds.

MEP: Across-the-board cuts 'clearly irresponsible'

Debate on 2018 EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Siegfried Mursesan
EBS

Centre-right Romanian MEP Siegfried Mursesan, who is Parliament's lead negotiator for this year's talks says he would oppose the practice of making "automatic cuts to all budgetary lines".

He says this has been suggested by national governments consistently in recent years, but is "clearly irresponsible" and does not reflect that spending should show political priorities.

He says the European Parliament will have two priorities in the forthcoming talks: more investment to boost employment, and more spending on security.

MEPs debate next year's EU budget

Euro note
Getty Images

Budgetary matters will remain on the menu this afternoon for a little while longer, as MEPs debate next year’s annual budget.

Tomorrow MEPs will vote on a motion to set out their initial position on spending for 2018, ahead of the start of negotiations with national ministers and the EU Commission.

Governments are expected to take their position later this summer.

The European Commission suggested in May that the budget should be set at €161bn for new budgetary commitments, with payments made during the year to total €145bn.

Don't 'rob Peter to pay Paul' - MEP

Debate on the future of the EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Mairead McGuinness
EBS

Irish Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness says she is glad that the Commission's paper is "not all pessimistic".

She says that adopting an attitude of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" would be unhelpful - and says money should not be taken from agriculture spending to make up for shortfalls elsewhere.

Catalan MEP: EU budget 'should be more autonomous'

Debate on the future of the EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jordi Sole
EBS

Catalan nationalist Jordi Sole says that Brexit should be seen as an opportunity to create an EU budget that is "more autonomous" of contributions from member states.

He suggests this could be done by boosting ways for the EU to raise more of its own revenue.

The DUP's leader in the assembly, Diane Dodds, says if the Commission goes down a "predictable path" of creating new spending priorities after Brexit, the budget shortfall could balloon to €25bn.

The budget needs to serve taxpayers as well as the "federalist ambitions of some", she adds.

Commissioner: 'Logical' to get rid of all rebates after Brexit

Debate on future of EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Gunther Oettinger
EBS

Budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger says that "initial choices" for the future of the budget will be outlined in Jean-Claude Juncker's next "state of the union" speech in September.

Firmer plans will be launched in the first three months of next year, he continues.

He adds that the legal and financial implications of Brexit will have to be known before the EU can adopt a new framework for its long-term budget, known as the MFF.

He says there is a "logical incentive" to get rid of the various national rebates after Brexit, as he says these only came about because of the one applied to the UK. He goes on to say:

This is the mother of all rebates - maybe we should lose the children."

MEPs debate future of EU budget

Günther Oettinger
AFP
Mr Oettinger said Brexit would have "consequences" for EU spending

MEPs are now debating another paper from the European Commission, this time on the future of the EU’s budget.

Launching the paper last week, the budget commissioner said the UK's departure from the EU will leave a budget shortfall of at least €10bn.

Günther Oettinger said the bloc must either spend less or find new money to fill the gap, equivalent to an estimated 16% of the entire budget.

Among the options on the table could be less generous payments to farmers or a tax on financial transactions.

UK should 'stay plugged in' to EU plans after Brexit

Debate on EU defence fund

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, who sits on the foreign affairs committee, says he hopes the UK can stay "as plugged in as possible" to the EU's common defence and foreign policies after Brexit.

German social democrat Knut Fleckenstein says that the debate over the 2% of GDP Nato defence target should be separate from what is in the EU document.

He adds that the ideas floated by the European Commission are not about increasing military intervention but more support for "civil peacekeeping means".

Knut Fleckenstein
EBS

Plans 'all about political integration' - Tory MEP

Debate on EU defence fund

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Geoffrey van Orden
EBS

British Conservative MEP Geoffrey van Orden questions the need for EU defence co-operation, given the well established Nato alliance.

"We all know it's about European political integration", he adds, and that politicians should "come clean" on this.

Mogherini: EU can help 'efficiency' of national military spending

Debate on EU defence fund

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Federica Mogherini
EBS

Responding for the European Commission, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says that greater security comes out as a public priority in Eurobarometer surveys.

She says the Commission's plans will "not lead to militarisation of the European Union" - nor an EU army.

She tells MEPs that greater defence spending is a matter for national governments, not the EU institutions - but that the EU can help countries "spend better" and "more efficiently", adding:

this is not about militarising, this is about rationalising"

EU militarisation 'not what citizens want' - MEP

Debate on EU defence fund

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Sabine Losing
EBS

German left-wing MEP Sabine Losing says the defence fund is the "scaffold" for greater militarisation of the EU - which is "not what citizens want".

She says that the matter of security should also include social security - an area where the EU has "not much to offer".

The money used on new weapons, she says, could be "more urgently used elsewhere".

MEPs debate EU defence co-operation

Next up, MEPs are debating the EU Commission’s recent reflection paper on defence co-operation.

Among its proposals, the paper recommended the establishment a European Defence Fund, agreed with national governments, to help finance joint military projects.

The EU will earmark budget funds to co-finance projects that EU member states want to develop together.

Under the plan, €500m will be made available annually after 2020 for joint military research, and another €1bn annually for joint investment and purchases of military equipment, such as drones and helicopters.

Welcome extended

European Commission vice-president for Digital Single Market tweets

MEPs debate plans for 2018 EU laws

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

MEPs will be underway again shortly, when they will be joined by European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans to debate the EU Commission’s legislative plans for next year.

The Commission is expected to announce its plans for 2018 later this year.

In a non-binding vote tomorrow, MEPs will set out what new laws they want to see.

Votes finish

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

This will be followed by a break, after which the sitting will start up again at 14.00 BST when they will be debating the European Commission’s legislative plans for next year.

MEPs adopt report on budget underspend

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs back a report calling on EU states to put €6.4bn left over from last year’s EU budget towards matching EU contributions made towards sustainable development funds in Africa.

The money should be spent on this priority instead of being returned to member states through lower contributions this year, they say.

The report from the budgets committee also says the falling value of the pound against the euro after last year’s Brexit vote was the “main cause” of a €1.5bn reduction in the EU’s own income last year.

The report says that because this is down to the UK’s “unilateral” decision to quit the union, this amount should be borne in mind during negotiations over a Brexit bill.

MEPs give initial backing to tax transparency rules

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also give initial backing for new EU tax transparency rules for large multinational companies proposed by the European Commission in April last year.

They will now take this position into negotiations with national ministers.

The legislation would force large firms to publicly disclose their tax receipts on a country-by-country basis.

Under the plan launched by the EU Commission, companies would be able to apply for exemptions in the case of information that is deemed commercially sensitive.

MEPs approve EU aid for Moldova

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

MEPs also approve a €100m EU economic assistance package for Moldova they debated yesterday.

MEPs have agreed a package with national ministers that includes €60m in loans and €40m in grants.

The country – which is part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme – has seen its economy hit in recent years after political instability.

A huge banking scandal in 2014 saw the EU and the IMF suspend financial support, although this resumed last year.

The money comes with a commitment from Moldova to respect democracy and human rights standards.

MEPs approve new Bulgarian commissioner

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Mariya Gabriel
AFP

The European Parliament has approved the appointment of current MEP Mariya Gabriel as the new commissioner for Bulgaria, with responsibilities over the digital economy.

Since it concerned a single nominee, the vote was held as a secret ballot - there were 517 votes in favour, 77 against and 89 abstentions.

The previous Bulgarian representative, the budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, resigned from the EU Commission last year to take a job at the World Bank.

Although the opinion of MEPs on the appointment is not binding, the EU Commission is obliged to “seriously consider” the Parliament’s views and a rejection would have been difficult to ignore.

MEPs extend tax committee mandate

European Parliament

Strasbourg

First up, however, MEPs approve a proposal to extend the mandate of the European Parliament’s inquiry committee into the Panama Papers scandal.

The committee’s final report was supposed to have been published last month, but the committee has asked for an extension.

The 65-member panel was set up in June last year following a data leak from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The documents revealed the hidden assets of hundreds of politicians, officials, current and former national leaders, celebrities and sports stars.

MEPs are investigating whether EU governments and the European Commission failed to properly implement EU anti-tax avoidance and financial transparency rules.

Votes begin

MEPs are now taking their seats before today’s voting session, which will begin shortly.

During the session, MEPs will decide whether to confirm current MEP Mariya Gabriel as the new commissioner for Bulgaria, with responsibilities over the digital economy.

Her predecessor, the budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, resigned from the EU Commission last year to take a job at the World Bank.

Verhofstadt: Veil 'an exceptional woman'

Ceremony to remember Simone Veil

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group to which Simone Veil belonged, says the former European Parliament president "fought against all dangers" to build a centrist coalition.

He pays tribute to her as an "exceptional woman who represents our shared past and our shared future".

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Tajani pays tribute to Simone Veil

Ceremony to remember Simone Veil

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
EBS

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani tells MEPs that Simone Veil contributed to the construction of the EU during a "very difficult period".

She was aware, he said, of "how fragile" peace was.

She belongs to "the generation of the greatest Europeans", he adds.

MEPs to hear tributes to Simone Veil

That’s the debate on new tax transparency rules finished.

There will now be a short ceremony to allow MEPs to pay tribute to former French MEP Simone Veil, who died last week.

Ms Veil, best known in France for her instrumental role in legalising abortion in the 1970s, served as the first president of an elected European Parliament.

MEP: Public information will help check enforcement

Debate on tax transparency rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ludek Niedermayer
EBS

Czech centre-right MEP Ludek Niedermayer says that although the country-by-country reporting of tax receipts was "never designed to be public", full disclosure will should help to ensure "tax authorities are doing their jobs properly".

The mandatory disclosure of information between tax authorities is included in a separate piece of EU legislation.

MEPs seek support for amendments

Debate on tax transparency rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Laura Ferrara
EBS

A number of MEPs speak up for amendments to the legislation put forward by their groups, which will be voted on later.

The approved amendments will form part of Parliament's position on the new rules, which MEPs will take into negotiations with national ministers.

Italian MEP Laura Ferrara, from the Five Star movement, highlights an amendment from her group which would increase the number of firms covered by the new tax reporting obligations.

The amendment would mean the rules would apply to all firms with an annual turnover over €40m, as opposed to €750m in the current plans.

Catalan Green MEP Ernest Urtasun signals his support for a group of amendments from the Socialist group aiming to out greater limits on the exemption clauses for firms not to disclose information.

More on Juncker's outburst

Brussels reporter tweets

MEPs back greater transparency on tax

Debate on tax transparency rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Pervenche Beres
EBS

French Socialist Pervenche Beres says the European Parliament would like to "go beyond" the proposals put forward by the European Commission.

She says there should be "full transparency" on profits, regardless of the country in which they are made.

Catalan nationalist Ramon Tremosa i Balcells gives his backing to the legislation, saying greater tax transparency is something voters "have been demanding for a long time".

In the round

BBC Brussels correspondent tweets

Commissioner: Tax rules require 'right balance'

Debate on tax transparency rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Euro and Social Dialogue Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tells MEPs that the new rules are part of a raft of measures to ensure tax is paid "where economic activities are taking place".

He says the issue requires striking the "right balance" between increasing transparency without harming the competitiveness of European businesses.

He says the EU Commission is counting on MEPs to get the measure passed "as soon as possible".

Valdis Dombrovskis
EBS