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Summary

  1. MEPs call for EU leaders to move Brexit talks onto next stage
  2. They also discuss other topics for this week's EU summit
  3. MEPs adopt final report on Panama Papers tax inquiry
  4. In afternoon MEPs debate Schengen area and EU disaster response team

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow...

That's all for tonight - MEPs are back tomorrow at 08.00 GMT, when their first debate is on a report into petitions received in 2016.

After this, they will debate a report from the transport committee with recommendations for reducing emissions reductions from the transport sector.

They will also debate and vote on three human topical human rights motions.

MEPs debate motion on tackling child abuse

Finally tonight, MEPs are debating a motion from the civil liberties and justice committee calling for more to be done to fight sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

It calls on member states to “step up” their efforts to implement a 2011 EU law on tackling abuse and removing child pornography from the internet.

It also calls for greater efforts to tackle the abuse of migrant children and for national judicial authorities to take “concrete measures” to tackle so-called revenge porn.

Debate on inquiry committee powers

Next tonight is a short debate on the European Parliament’s powers to set up inquiry committees.

In recent years the MEPs have set up committees to look into the emissions cheating scandal and various tax leaks, including the “Luxleaks” and the “Panama Papers”.

However in an oral question a group of MEPs complain that the current framework for such committees is “outdated” and a process to reform it remains stalled.

Commissioner underlines national obligations under EU law

Debate on Nazi and fascist symbols

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Migration Commissioner
EBS

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tells MEPs that the Commission shares their concerns about the "rise in racist and xenophobic" language.

He says that under the EU's framework decision on tackling racism, EU states must criminalise publicly inciting to violence or hatred in their national law.

This could include Nazi and fascist material, she says.

However he adds that it is up to national authorities to implement this and they are responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases.

Debate on Nazi symbols begins

MEPs move on to their next debate, which is on whether there should be an EU-wide ban on Nazi and fascist symbols and slogans.

The EU dropped plans for an explicit ban on Nazi symbols across the then 25 member states in 2005 after it became clear that members could not agree on which symbols to ban.

There were also concerns that a ban was a threat to freedom of expression.

EU scheme 'will not replace' national personnel

Debate on EU disaster response team

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Christos Stylianides
EBS

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides tells MEPs that the EU last year suffered an extended bout of forest fires, which he puts down to climate change.

Climate change has "changed the game", he says, adding that "more unpredictable" disasters risk overwhelming national authorities.

The current system, under which EU states volunteer resources, has "reached its limits", he says.

The European Commission's proposal for an EU-managed pool of experts will "support and complement" national teams rather than replacing them, he adds.

MEPs debate EU disaster response team

Spanish firemen try to extinguish a forest fire in Spain
EPA
The EU co-ordinated a response to forest fires in Spain

MEPs are now debating the EU’s civil protection mechanism – a framework for providing assistance to countries after natural and man-made disasters.

This can include government aid, or the deployment of emergency service personnel or experts. Assistance is co-ordinated via an operations centre in Brussels.

All 28 EU states are a part of the scheme, along with Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey.

Last month the European Commission announced plans for a revamped scheme, with a reserve of new civil protection capabilities managed by the EU.

MEPs move to debate on anti-poverty goals

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Next up is a debate on how well the EU is doing to implement the UN’s new sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The goals, agreed at the United Nations at the end of 2015, set new targets for tackling poverty, hunger, climate change and other global problems.

The EU has reflected the targets in a plan called Agenda 2030.

UKIP & Tory MEPs on the Brexit motion

MEPs voting in Strasbourg
European Parliament
MEPs can vote on individual parts of a motion

A number of British MEPs did not support the motion this morning, which recommended that EU leaders should move to the next stage of Brexit talks.

Does that mean they don't want talks to progress? Not quite...

In the European Parliament, MEPs get to vote on individual clauses in a motion before they vote on the final text in its amended form.

As such, they may support elements in a motion but decide that they cannot give their overall support to the final text.

Conservative MEPs have said they voted to move talks on but abstained on the final text because its red lines "interfere" in the talks and "set the wrong tone".

As for UKIP - they say they voted against the motion, citing its "unacceptable demands" on the UK.

Estonian minister: EU must respect national powers

Debate on EU pillar of social rights

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Matti Maasikas
EBS

On behalf of the Estonian EU presidency, Estonia's deputy minister for EU affairs Matti Maasikas, says EU states should do their "utmost" to make the pledges a reality.

However at the same time, he says the EU must respect the competencies of national governments and the "diversity" of approaches in different states.

Debate begins on EU social rights pledge

European Parliament

Strasbourg

EU leaders hold the social rights document
EPA
The document was signed at a summit in Sweden last month

Up next is a debate on the EU-wide pillar of social rights endorsed by EU states last month.

The document commits states to promote “fair” wages, equal access between men and women to take leave for caring responsibilities, and the right to access “affordable” healthcare.

However it does not contain new EU powers in areas such as minimum wage setting, employment rights or welfare policy.

MEPs debate membership of Schengen area

Customs post on the Swiss-German border
AFP

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

First up this afternoon MEPs are debating whether Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia should join the passport-free Schengen travel area.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Romania and Bulgaria should be allowed to join during his state of the union speech in September.

The European Parliament has maintained since 2011 that both countries are ready to join but doing so would require unanimous agreement from EU states.

The principle of check-free borders within the Schengen zone has come under increasing pressure in recent years due to migration from Africa and the Middle East.

Nigel Farage speaking in European Parliament

Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage criticises "Theresa the appeaser" as MEPs back move to next phase of talks.

Read more

Votes finish

That’s today’s voting session finished – MEPs will now be able to make short speeches explaining how they voted.

After this there will be a break, after which the sitting will resume at 14.00 GMT with a debate on whether more countries should participate in the Schengen passport-free travel area.

Motion objecting to kebab phosphates fails

Voting session

Kebab spit
EPA

MEPs fail to endorse a motion objecting to a European Commission decision to authorise phosphate additives in frozen kebab meat.

A resolution tabled by the centre-left and Green groups said authorisation should be withheld pending the results of a scientific study due by the end of next year.

Some MEPs have health concerns about the additives and a possible link to cardiovascular disease, although this is disputed.

However, the motion falls three MEPs short of reaching the absolute majority required to pass.

MEPs call for Brexit talks to move to next stage

Voting session

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker
PA
Theresa May reached the interim deal after talks in Brussels

By 556 votes to 62 with 68 abstentions, MEPs approve their motion recommending that EU leaders should move to the next stage of Brexit talks.

It follows an interim deal on withdrawal issues agreed after negotiations between the UK and EU Commission last week.

However the motion also sets out demands that the application process for UK settled status should be free of charge and rights should be extended to “future partners” of EU and UK citizens.

It also says that a future relationship with the UK, including a trade deal, should be dependent on the UK’s “adherence” to EU law in a number of areas.

They also add an amendment accusing UK Brexit Secretary David Davis of undermining "the good faith that has been built during the negotiations".

Votes begin

With the Sakharov human rights awards ceremony finished, MEPs begin their voting session.

Venezuelan opposition to collect human rights prize

European Parliament

Strasbourg

That’s the debate on the Brexit negotiations finished. MEPs’ draft motion will be the first to be put to the vote during the voting session, which will get underway shortly.

Before that, however, there will be a short ceremony to award this year’s Sakharov human rights prize to political prisoners and democratic opposition in Venezuela.

In April the European Parliament accused the government of using “brutal repression” against those protesting against the creation of a new constituent assembly in the country.

Opposition activists say that President Nicolás Maduro has created the new body simply as a means to bypass the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Protests in Venezuela
Reuters

Barnier pledges draft for withdrawal agreement by January

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Michel Barnier
BBC

Summing up the debate, European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says Article 50 is the only legal basis on which a transition deal can be agreed.

Without an agreement on a withdrawal agreement, he says, there can be no transition.

Negotiations have not quite "reached the end" on the issue of citizens' rights, he says, and that final deals need to be included in the withdrawal agreement.

The content of the interim agreement will go into a draft for a withdrawal agreement, which he hopes to present to MEPs by the end of January, he says.

He switches temporarily out of French and into English, before describing the Prime Minister, Theresa May, as "courageous and respectable".

EU citizens: immigration minister outlines application process changes

House of Lords committee tweets

French MEP: Don't let UK become investment 'Trojan horse'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Franck Proust
BBC

Centre-right French MEP Franck Proust says the EU has managed to protect its red lines in the talks so far and congratulates Michel Barnier.

He should make sure second-stage talks "serve the interests of Europe" - and says the UK must not be allowed to become a "Trojan horse for foreign investment" into the EU.

A Spanish MEP from the same political group, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, says agreement on withdrawal issues is "only the beginning".

Success will be in achieving a Brexit that "doesn't look like Brexit", he adds.

New fight?

Former UKIP leader tweets

Labour MEP: Citizens 'still facing uncertainty'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Richard Corbett
BBC

Labour's leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett, says UK ministers are still to discuss the final outcome "they actually want".

He predicts that the UK will "probably not" be more prepared for the second stage of negotiations than for the first.

He says the interim agreement on citizens' rights still leaves people "facing uncertainty" - and that unlike with the Irish border, the UK commitments in this area depend on a final deal being done.

"Do not pretend that the first stage issues are settled," he adds.

MEPs to demand ‘adherence’ to EU rules in Brexit trade deal

Debate on Brexit negotiations

Containers at the port of Hamburg
EPA

The motion recommends that the next stage of talks should focus on “finalising” withdrawal issues and a possible transition arrangement.

The UK should “automatically apply” new EU laws adopted during the transition period, it says.

The EU’s future relationship with the UK should include trade relations as well as co-operation over security and foreign policy issues, it recommends.

However a deal on future relations should only be “formally negotiated” after the UK has left the EU, it adds, and be dependent on the UK’s “adherence” to EU law in the following areas:

  • the environment and climate change
  • consumer protection
  • tax evasion and avoidance
  • data protection and privacy
  • social and workers’ rights

MEP: EU will miss influence of UK

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Hans-Olaf Henkel
BBC

German conservative Hans-Olaf Henkel says Brexit is hitting the EU "at least as much" as Britain.

It also puts "sophisticated supply chains" in danger, he says.

The EU will also miss the influence of the UK's MEPs in the European Parliament, he adds, who have been advocates of "freedom, autonomy and competitiveness".

Farage: May 'has danced to EU's tune'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Nigel Farage
BBC

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says that the EU side "didn't need" to make many concessions to Theresa May, whom he brands "Theresa the appeaser".

The Prime Minister has "danced to your tune all the way through", he says.

Agreeing to grant EU citizens in Britain family reunion rights means that "frankly open-door immigration will continue".

The transition deal is the "biggest deception yet", he says, and means that in March 2019 the UK will have left the EU "in name only".

Millions of pro-Leave voters are feeling frustrated, he adds, and are "perhaps even now moving to the point of anger".

EU must be sure of commitments - Green MEP

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Ska Keller
BBC

Green/EFA group co-leader, German MEP Ska Keller, says there have been "steps forward" on Brexit as well as other areas.

However she says that the agreement was "put into question" in London over the weekend.

If the EU cannot be sure that future agreements are "actually going to hold" then it will put "major strain" on any future relationship, she adds.

She also says the agreement to avoid a hard Irish border is "nice" but doesn't clarify how this is actually going to be achieved.

Verhofstadt: 'Nobody seems to trust the Home Office'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Guy Verhofstadt
BBC

Guy Verhofstadt, who also leads the Liberal ALDE group, also criticises Mr Davis's recent comments, which he describes as "unfortunate".

He calls for the negotiators to start drafting the terms of last week's interim deal into a legally binding withdrawal agreement in "the coming weeks".

He says it is clear from letters he has received from EU citizens that "nobody seems to trust the Home Office" not to compromise rights with "enormous" administrative burdens.

Citizens' rights will mean nothing if the people affected are "drowned in red tape", he adds.

Kammall: Negotiations 'looking to future'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Syed Kammall
BBC

Brexit-backing Conservative MEP Syed Kammall, a co-leader of the ECR group, says last week's deal means the negotiations are "looking to the future" rather than the past.

Although there will be various groups who haven't got all that they wanted, he says, the "everyday reality" of dealmaking requires concessions to reach agreements.

Brexit should not change common interests the UK has with the EU, such as in the areas of trade and co-operation on security, he adds.

All Irish now?

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
BBC

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says Mr Davis's remarks over the weekend were "not helpful" for building trust.

He calls on Theresa May to "clarify" at the summit tomorrow that last week's commitments were indeed binding.

He says that whilst in 1921 the UK was able to "easily set the terms" of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Brexit talks have shown that Ireland is "much stronger because it belongs to the European Union".

"We all are Irish, that is the main message", he adds.

MEPs likely to criticise David Davis over weekend comments

Debate on Brexit negotiations

David Davis
AFP/GETTY

Yesterday the Parliament's chief Brexit spokesman Guy Verhofstadt accused UK Brexit Secretary David Davis of harming "good faith" in the talks with remarks over the weekend.

It came after Mr Davis suggested on Sunday that the deal unveiled by Theresa May last week amounted to a "statement of intent" rather than a binding agreement.

Mr Davis said he was quoted out of context.

Mr Verhofstadt has tabled two amendments to today’s draft motion, one of which says Mr Davis's comments risk undermining "the good faith that has been built during the negotiations".

The other calls on the UK to "fully respect" last week's Brexit deal and ensure it is "fully translated" into a draft withdrawal agreement.

The amendments have been signed by five political groups – meaning they are both likely to be added to the motion at the vote later.

Barnier: Last week's deal 'a message of confidence'

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Michel Barnier
BBC

European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says last week's interim deal marks a "very important phase" in the negotiations.

Last week's deal will send a "message of confidence" to people worried about the future, he says.

There will be "no going back" on the progress decision, he says - and the terms of last week's agreement will be translated into a legally binding withdrawal agreement, he adds.

Respecting the points in the deal is a "prerequisite" for "continuing the negotiations in a smooth fashion", he adds.

The negotiations are "not at the end of the road" on the matter of citizens' rights and other issues, he adds.

'Glum faces in Brit corner'

Daily Express Brussels Correspondent tweets:

Commissioner responds to Tusk quotas criticism

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Frans Timmermans
BBC

European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans says the EU should make use of better economic growth to complete plans to strengthen the banking sector.

He says he will count on the European Parliament for its support on future reforms of the eurozone.

He says he "firmly disagrees" with the view that the EU's migrant quota scheme has been ineffective, and calls for a "comprehensive European approach".

European Council President Donald Tusk took this view in a letter to EU leaders circulated yesterday.

Estonian minister: Deal a 'significant move' from UK

Debate on Brexit negotiations

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Matti Maasikas
BBC

On behalf of the Estonian EU presidency, Estonia's deputy minister for EU affairs Matti Maasikas says that EU states are "getting very close" to moving Brexit talks onto the next stage.

Last week's interim deal was a "significant move" from the UK and a "solid agreement", which the EU leaders should welcome, he says.

However he says that withdrawal issues are not fully finalised and progress on transition talks will continue to depend on respecting what has already been agreed.

What’s in MEPs’ motion?

Debate on Brexit negotiations

MEPs voting in Strasbourg
European Parliament

The draft motion to be voted on later calls for:

  • all citizens’ rights to be extended to “future partners” of EU and UK citizens
  • the application process for UK settled status to be free of charge
  • EU court decisions over citizens’ rights to have a “binding character”
  • British citizens in living in Europe to keep free movement rights across “the whole EU”
  • guarantees that commitments on the Irish border are “fully enforceable”

Good morning

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

MEPs will shortly be joined by European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to debate last week’s interim deal on withdrawal issues between the UK and the EU.

Later today MEPs will vote on a draft motion which recommends that EU leaders should now agree to move to talks on the future relationship at a summit starting tomorrow.

However the resolution also sets out a number of demands on “outstanding issues”, notably in the area of citizens’ rights.

The European Parliament is not participating directly in the negotiations but it will have to ratify the final deal for it to come into effect.