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Summary

  1. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gives 'state of the union' speech
  2. He tells MEPs: UK 'will regret' Brexit
  3. MEPs approve huge EU aid grant to earthquake-struck Italian regions
  4. New car emissions testing rules discussed this afternoon
  5. Trade relations between the EU and Chile debated in evening

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

And with that, today's session comes to a close.

MEPs are back bright and early at 07.30 BST tomorrow, when they will first debate plans for new EU scheme to boost skills.

They will also discuss the Nord Stream gas pipeline, and four topical human rights motions.

One of the draft motions calls on Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to “unequivocally” condemn alleged attacks by soldiers on Rohingya Muslims.

MEPs debate EU-Chile trade

Finally tonight, MEPs are discussing a bilateral recognition agreement in trade in organic products between the EU and Chile, which will be put to a ratification vote tomorrow.

They will also discuss a draft report from the international trade committee recommending updates to the EU’s 2002 trade agreement with the country.

MEPs on the committee have recommended adding chapters on small businesses, investment and sustainable development.

It also recommends using the new investment court system to resolve trade disputes.

Erasmus 'must add value' - Commissioner

Debate on Erasmus student programme

Commissioner Navracsics says the EU Commission is "proudly celebrating" the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus scheme this year.

Since its launch in 1987, he notes, 9 million students have taken part.

In the future, the programme should focus on those areas "where the programme adds value" - citing priority areas such as technology and climate change research.

Commissioner Navracsics
EBS

MEPs debate Erasmus student funding

Students at Liverpool university
PA

MEPs have been joined by Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics to debate future funding for the Erasmus+ student exchange programme.

Some MEPs are concerned about plans to use the funding for the programme to finance projects such as the EU’s new volunteering scheme.

In an oral question, members of the culture and education committee claim that a “significant number of high-quality projects” are being denied funding due to a lack of funding.

MEPs debate new North Sea fishing quotas

Cod on a fishing deck
BBC

MEPs are now debating multiannual fishing quotas for demersal (i.e. deep-sea) fish stocks in the North Sea, such as sole, plaice, cod and haddock.

This would be the second multiannual management plan introduced by the EU since changes to the Commons Fisheries Policy in 2013.

It would affect several thousand vessels from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

MEPs will take their initial view on the quotas tomorrow, before talks with national fisheries ministers begin.

Commissioner gives overview of EU aid

Debate on EU response to Hurricane Irma

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Commissioner Stylianides says that as well as satellite and on-the-ground support, the European Commission is mobilising funding to help affected islands.

He says €160,000 was immediately made available to the Red Cross after the storms hit, with an "initial amount" of €2m also released for the "most affected" islands.

"Longer-term funding" will also be made available, he adds.

He notes that some parts of the affected areas are either part of or "closely associated" with the European Union through the UK, France and the Netherlands.

Commissioner Stylianides
EBS

MEPs debate EU response to Irma storms

French Caribbean islands of St. Martin
Reuters

MEPs have now been joined by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides to debate the EU response to destruction in the Caribbean and US caused by Hurricane Irma.

Last week the EU Commission said the European satellite mapping system Copernicus had provided maps to Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin.

Satellite imagery from the system was recently provided to the US authorities in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Humanitarian experts from the Commission are present in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

MEPs debate new rules for investment funds

MEPs are now debating EU legislation announced last summer which would amend frameworks for two types of investment fund.

The first aims to help small fund managers invest in small businesses, whilst the second aims to promote investment in social undertakings.

MEPs reached a provisional agreement on the new law in June, which they will put to a final vote at tomorrow’s voting session.

They have agreed to increase the initial capital from €30,000 – as proposed by the European Commission – to €50,000.

MEPs debate statistics programme

MEPs are now debating plans to extend the mandate for the European statistical programme to 2020 – the current programme is due to finish at the end of this year.

Disagreement over scope of Parliament text

Debate on EU disability access rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tatjana Zdanoka
EBS

Conservative Tim Dalton says the committee's position on the new rules is "realistic" and strikes a "very good balance" - and says his party's MEPs will be supporting it at the vote.

Latvian Green Tatjana Zdanoka, however, says her group is "very disappointed" with the ambition of the Parliament's revisions and will vote against them unless the position is amended.

MEP: 'Strong mandate' needed for talks with EU states

Debate on EU disability access rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Morten Lokkegaard
EBS

Danish Liberal MEP Morten Lokkegaard says the new rules will need to strike a "difficult balance" between guaranteeing disabled access and ensuring the proper functioning of the single market.

Businesses should not be overly burdened with "red tape", he adds.

He calls on his colleagues to approve of his draft amendments to the Commission's text when they adapt their initial position at the vote tomorrow.

A "strong mandate" will be needed, he tells MEPs, because some national governments are "very sceptical" about the proposed new rules.

MEPs debate disability access rules

A man withdraws money from an ATM
Reuters

MEPs are now debating new EU rules that would create minimum accessibility requirements for disabled people for a range of products and services.

The proposed European Accessibility Act would update requirements for ATMs, ticketing machines, mobile phones, TVs and banking services, among others.

MEPs will take an initial position on the legislation tomorrow ahead of negotiations with national ministers, who have yet to agree a common position.

UKIP MEP criticises 'tendering' of housing management

Debate on fire safety rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Tim Aker
EBS

Former local councillor and UKIP MEP Tim Aker says the practice of "tendering out" the maintenance of state housing stock to outside organisations should change.

"They deal in the profit motive instead of human welfare," he says.

Such responsibilities should be brought back into "complete democratic control", he adds.

Labour MEP calls for sprinklers in all buildings

Debate on fire safety rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Neena Gill
EBS

Labour MEP Neena Gill calls for fire sprinklers in all buildings - both residential and commercial.

She also urges "better fire testing methods" for building facades.

Czech Liberal Dita Charanzova says the single market means building materials can circulate freely within Europe.

She adds that this makes the case for an "EU-wide action plan" for improving fire safety, and calls for new testing rules for to determine whether building materials emit toxic fumes.

EU 'a facilitator rather than a regulator'

Debate on fire safety rules

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Elzbieta Bienkowska
EBS

Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska tells MEPs that the fire safety of buildings is regulated and enforced at the national level.

At the moment, the European Commission has "no proof" that national rules are not achieving this today, she says.

The EU "will act" if intervention becomes necessary, she says - but adds that in this area, the EU executive sees itself as a "facilitator rather than a regulator".

She says the Commission will be setting up an "exchange platform" to allow national regulators to exchange information about fire safety.

MEPs debate fire safety rules

Grenfell Tower
Getty Images

Next up, MEPs are going to be debating what can be done at an EU and at national levels to improve the fire safety of buildings after the fire at Grenfell Tower in London in June.

Police believe at least 80 people died in the fire in North Kensington.

The government said last week that 165 tower blocks across the UK have failed cladding fire safety tests carried out after the disaster, with only eight passing.

Austrian MEP: Greens 'want to ban diesel cars'

Debate on new car testing measures

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Georg Mayer
EBS

Georg Mayer, from Austria's Freedom Party, which sits in the anti-EU ENF group, accuses the Green MEPs of not letting on their ultimate aims.

"Just say it - you want to ban diesel cars," he says.

New UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock says it is right that firms who broke the rules should face "proportionate penalties".

However, he says EU officials have questions to answer about reports that they were aware of problems in the testing regime before they became public.

Green MEP: Deal with cars still on the road

Debate on new car testing measures

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Bas Eickhout
EBS

Dutch Green Bas Eickhout says the "big question" is what to do with cars that are still on the road.

"We have to do something about the millions of cars that are not compliant with European law", he adds.

The European Commission should come forward with guidelines for new software updates for existing car models, he tells MEPs.

Emissions scandal 'a failure of culture' - MEP

Debate on new car testing measures

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Daniel Dalton
EBS

Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton says that, two years on from the original scandal, "a lot more work" remains to be done.

New emissions testing requirements introduced this month are a step forward, he says.

However he says the scandal also highlighted a "failure of culture" - with a "cosy club" existing between manufacturers, governments and regulators.

Commissioner: Diesel reductions 'needed to avoid bans'

Debate on new car testing measures

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jyrki Katainen
EBS

Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen tells MEPs the EU Commission is working to provide better market surveillance and ensure "better enforcement" of emissions rules.

New measures proposed by national regulators must lead to a reduction in diesel emissions - not just in the testing lab, but also on the road, he says.

This is "the only way" to avoid the need for bans on diesel cars, he adds.

Both the UK and France have announced bans on diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

Keller: Commission 'should carry out own car tests'

Debate on new car testing measures

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ska Keller
EBS

Ska Keller, a co-leader of the Green/EFA group, says diesel cars are a "health issue" and should be "consistently" retrofitted with newer technologies.

The European Commission should carry out "its own tests", she says - and the sector should be closely monitored.

MEPs debate new car testing measures

VW logo and cars
AFP

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

The sitting will resume shortly with a debate on the “dieselgate” scandal, which first emerged just under two years ago.

Volkswagen has admitted to fitting vehicles with illegal software which allowed them to cheat emissions tests over a six-year period.

The European Parliament’s own inquiry into the scandal concluded that national and EU regulators had known about problems with emissions testing but failed to intervene.

A tougher EU-wide framework for emissions testing came into effect earlier this month.

Voting session ends

That’s the voting session finished. MEPs will now get the chance to make short speeches explaining how they voted.

The sitting will resume at 14.00 BST, with a debate on car emissions testing standards.

MEPs call for relaxed food checks to be dropped

Voting session

MEPs also call on the European Commission to drop plans to relax radioactive contamination checks on EU imports of food products harvested near Japan’s Fukushima power plant.

Radioactivity checks are currently mandatory for food imports from 12 areas in Japan which were exposed to radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster at the plat in 2011.

A non-binding motion from the food safety committee argues that the proposals contradict EU legal obligations to properly protect human life.

The EU’s food safety commissioner said last month that the Commission’s proposals were based on a “detailed analysis” of food safety tests undertaken by the Japanese authorities.

MEPs prolong flight exemption for carbon scheme

Voting session

A flight takes off from Berlin airport
Reuters

MEPs also give initial backing to a proposal from the EU Commission extending a measure to exempt flights from the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The ETS scheme works by making emitters buy “allowances” authorising them to emit greenhouse gases, within an overall agreed limit.

Flights to and from the European Economic Area (EEA) were included in the ETS in 2012 but have been temporarily excluded whilst international regulators draw up new emissions rules.

They decide not to put their position to a "first reading" vote at this stage, instead deciding to enter into informal negotiations with national ministers on the details of the proposals.

MEPs approve earthquake aid package for Italy

Voting session

Earthquake damage in Italy
Getty Images

MEPs vote to approve almost €1.2bn in EU aid to help repair damage caused by earthquakes in central Italy last year and earlier this year.

Earthquakes hit the Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria regions.

The payout is the biggest ever under the EU’s Solidarity Fund since it was set up in 2002.

Votes soon

That’s the debate on this year’s “state of the union” speech finished. MEPs will now move on to today’s voting session.

Leading MEP says no to pan-EU lists

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

From the centre-right EPP group, German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber questions whether increasing legal migration is a wise way to get illegal immigration down.

The EU should think of the "millions of Europeans who have no jobs", he adds.

He also comes out against an idea that Mr Juncker said he was "sympathetic" towards - the idea of creating pan-EU MEPs to replace departing British members.

National MEPs, he says, are "already doing a transnational job".

Manfred Weber
BBC

MEPs react to debate

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Now it's the turn of the political group representatives to wind up the debate.

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group, says Mr Juncker's programme is "ambitious" and commands "broad support" in the European Parliament.

On behalf of the conservative ECR group, Polish Law and Justice MEP Ryszard Antoni Legutko however says the ideas outlined represent the "same old" mantra of "more Europe".

The European Commission is itself guilty of breaking rules, he adds, and calls for a "renovation" of the EU's executive body.

Juncker seeks co-operation on new laws

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Jean-Claude Juncker
BBC

With the debate among backbench MEPs finished, Jean-Claude Juncker gets a second bite at the cheery with the chance to make a closing speech.

He keeps it brief - telling the Parliament that he hopes to adopt a "joint declaration" with MEPs on legislative priorities for 2018 by the end of this year.

Italian PM thanks Juncker for Italy's migration mention

Italian Prime Minister tweets:

Announcements card

State of the Union speech 2017

Jean-Claude Juncker
Reuters

As well as plenty of rhetoric, there were also a number of remarks touching on policy.

During the course of his hour-long speech, Mr Juncker proposed:

  • merging the EU Commission and European Council presidencies
  • opening trade talks with Australia and New Zealand
  • a new EU industrial policy strategy
  • a new EU agency to monitor the labour market
  • ruling out Turkish EU membership for the "forseeable future"
  • a separate line in the EU budget for eurozone countries
  • a mechanism to screen foreign investments in strategic areas
  • allowing Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen area
  • a "finance and economy" minister for the eurozone
  • "functioning" EU defence co-operation by 2025
  • offering "credible" membership prospects to the Western Balkans
  • a new EU cyber-security agency
The EU Commission president says the EU will always regret Brexit - and the UK will too.
The EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU will always regret Brexit - and the UK soon will, too.

You can't please everyone...

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Polish centre-right MEP Janusz Lewandowski says the UK which is "in the shadow of Brexit", rather than than EU.

The project of the EU's founding fathers "will continue to flourish", he adds.

Spanish Podemos MEP Miguel Urban Crespo, however, says Mr Juncker's plans would create an "anti-democratic machine".

This systems leads to "financial blackmail" used to push a "neoliberal vision" for Europe, he adds.

Miguel Urban Crespo
BBC

Juncker's 'chewy' speech

Times Brussels correspondent tweets:

Farage: 'Thank God we're leaving'

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Nigel Farage
BBC

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says Mr Juncker's speech was "open, honest and worrying", proposing "more Europe in every direction".

He expresses concern at his support for pan-EU lists of MEPs, saying that "genuine parties of opposition" will not be able to compete on a "level-playing field".

The Commission's attitude to the countries of central and eastern Europe, he adds, must remind them of "living under the Soviet communists".

"Thank God we're leaving", he adds.

The Brexit vote "would never, ever have happened" if the EU had given David Cameron more powers to restrict European immigration, he says - and accuses Mr Juncker of learning nothing from the result.

MEPs react to speech

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

From the left-wing GUE group, French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric says the EU should focus on boosting wages, including by better application of posted worker rules.

He also calls for a "development pact" with Africa.

Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, the co-leader of the Green/EFA group, says he hopes the ideas outlined in the speech today "give us a jolt".

He says his group will screen new EU laws for their impact on equality and the environment.

Philippe Lamberts
BBC

Verhofstadt backs pan-EU MEPs

State of the Union speech 2017

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group and is also the Parliament's chief Brexit spokesman, recalls electoral successes for pro-EU parties in the past year.

He takes a pop at former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, sitting opposite, whom he says is the "only one who doesn't get it".

However he adds that the EU should not believe that "the war is over".

He lends his backing to the idea of creating a "European asylum system" to replace the "broken" Dublin regulation on migration, and the creation of pan-EU MEPs for the European Parliament.