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Summary

  1. MEPs dismiss calls to end clock changes in spring and autumn
  2. Instead they call for study into effects of current system
  3. Critics say the twice-yearly changes harm economy and health
  4. MEPs also approve three human rights motions
  5. One calls on the EU to extend sanctions on Venezuela

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye

That's today's voting session finished.

There’s only one short debate this afternoon – on Italy’s decision to authorise the construction of a gas pipeline from Greece to Italy under the Adriatic sea.

However, that's where we leave our coverage for the European Parliament for today.

The next plenary sitting will be a one-day "mini-plenary" in Brussels later this month.

MEPs dismiss recommendation to end clock changes

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Alarm clock on a bedside table
PA

MEPs reject a recommendation from the transport committee for the EU Commission to end the mandatory twice-yearly clock changes in spring and autumn.

Common dates for putting the clocks forward and backwards are stipulated in EU legislation.

Critics of the system say there is evidence the changes negatively affect industry and the tourism sector, as well as people’s health.

Instead they approve amendments describing scientific evidence on the issue as inconclusive and calling for an “assessment” of the current regime.

MEPs call for Venezuela sanctions extension

Voting session

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Nicolás Maduro
Reuters
The US froze the American assets of President Maduro last year

MEPs also approve a motion calling for EU sanctions against Venezuela to be extended, to cover President Nicolás Maduro and other senior government figures.

The motion is not binding on EU governments, who would have to approve any extension.

Last month the EU imposed a travel ban and asset freezes on seven senior Venezuelan officials, in addition to an arms embargo imposed last year.

The EU expressed concern over human rights violations during anti-government protests last year in which more than 120 people were killed.

The motion also expresses “full solidarity” with Spain, whose ambassador to Caracas has been expelled.

Human rights motions approved

Voting session

First up they approve today’s human rights motions to:

  • call for the release of a human rights activist arrested in Russia last month
  • call for an end to the death penalty in Egypt
  • condemn the restavek system in Haiti as a form of child exploitation

Votes soon

That’s the debate on human rights motions finished.

There will now be a short break before today’s voting session at 11.00 GMT.

Restavek system 'a major human rights issue'

Human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Christos Stylianides
EBS

Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides says the Commission is "very sensitive" the "major human rights issue" of the restavek system.

He tells MEPs that the EU is working to promote human rights through improving education in the country.

Protecting the rights of children is a "top priority" in the EU's external action, he adds.

Final motion on child exploitation in Haiti

Human rights motions

A boy walks on a wall in a slum of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Reuters

The third and final motion this morning condemns the so-called 'restavek' system in Haiti.

The text drafted by five political groups says the tradition, under which children from poor families are sent to live with richer ones, is a form of forced labour.

The children are supposed to get food, shelter and a place at school in return but many are abused and face violence.

The text says the Haitian government should change the country’s criminal code to combat the practice.

MEPs debate motion on death penalty in Egypt

Human rights motions

The second of today’s motions condemns the use of the death penalty in Egypt, calling for a suspension in its use as a step towards full abolition.

A text drafted by seven political groups says there has been an “alarming increase” in the use of the punishment since the end of last year.

The motion states that at least 81 executions have been carried out since the start of 2014.

It urges the EU’s diplomatic service to use “use all means of influence at its disposal” to lobby for a halt on imminent executions.

Motion on Russian arrested Russian rights activist discussed

Human rights motions

The first motion calls for the release of a human rights activist arrested in Russia last month.

Oyub Titiev, who was the director at the Chechen branch of the rights NGO Memorial, has been accused of illegal drug possession.

The motion calls the charges “trumped-up” and part of a wider trend of attacks and attempts to intimidate human rights workers in Chechnya.

The European Parliament awarded Memorial its Sakharov human rights prize in 2009.

MEPs debate human rights motions

That’s the debate on the co-ordination of daylight saving times in the EU.

The vote on the report will be after 11.00 GMT.

Next up are short debates on this month’s three topical human rights motions.

Italian MEP mocks 'ridiculous' debate on clock changes

Debate on EU clock changes

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Angelo Ciocca holds a giant clock
EBS

Italian Lega Nord MEP Angelo Ciocca appears to have brought a clock with him to underline his opposition to the "ridiculous" debate on clock changes.

He adds that the issue doesn't appeal to his constituents in Italy, who would rather the assembly discussed issues such as employment.

Conservative MEP Jacqueline Foster says she is "totally unconvinced" by scientific reports on this topic, finding their conclusions "inconclusive".

MEPs differ over views on evidence

Debate on EU clock changes

Czech centre-right MEP Pavel Svoboda says the Parliament's transport committee has heard evidence of social downsides to changing the clocks, such as increased alcohol or tobacco consumption.

He says it is not clear why the system still exists, adding that there are "no clear energy savings" or evidence of an increased take-up of sporting activities.

However Latvian conservative Roberts Zile says there is a need for more conclusive evidence on this subject - and that without this, MEPs should not further discuss it.

Roberts Zile
EBS

Commissioner argues against changing system

Debate on EU clock changes

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Violeta Bulc
EBS

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc says that having "reassessed all available evidence", she is opposed to changing the current system within the EU.

The evidence is only conclusive on the point that unco-ordinated time sharing within the EU would be "detrimental to the internal market", she adds.

The evidence pointing to a negative effect on human health is "inconclusive", she says.

Downsides to health experienced by some may be "offset" by other factors such as increased leisure time, she tells MEPs.

Good morning

Double clock face
Reuters

Welcome to this final day of this week’s European Parliament plenary sitting in Strasbourg.

First up this morning MEPs will be joined by Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc to debate the co-ordination of daylight saving times in the EU.

Current EU legislation stipulates a common date in both spring and autumn on which clocks must be put forward and back respectively by one hour.

Critics of the system say there is evidence the changes negatively affect industry and the tourism sector, as well as people’s health.

Later today they will vote on a non-binding report drafted by the transport committee calling on the EU Commission to end the switches.