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Summary

  1. First details of new long-term EU budget announced, to run from 2021
  2. Final version of the budget will need to be approved by governments and MEPs
  3. Followed by: debates on investment lending and fraud against EU funds
  4. Debate on treatment of child migrants during evening

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodnight & coming up tomorrow

Finally tonight, the sitting will finish with a round of short topical speeches.

This item of business, also held on Mondays during full plenary sittings, is normally used by MEPs to make points about topical issues or stories of interest to their country or region.

However that's where we leave our coverage for today.

MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 BST, when they will hold a debate about the future of the EU with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

MEP outlines report on media freedom

Presentation of "own initiative" reports

Barbara Spinelli
EBS

Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli, who sits in the left-wing GUE group, has drafted a report on behalf of the civil liberties committee about media freedom in the EU.

It calls on EU states to set up an independent regulator to monitor and document violence and threats against journalists.

The draft says MEPs are “concerned” about media freedom in Malta, following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October last year.

It will be put to a final vote tomorrow.

Policy recommendations presented

Next this evening there will be short presentations of two “own initiative” reports drawn up by some of the Parliament’s committees.

The recommendations in these reports are not binding and in effect serve as a way for MEPs to propose ideas for new EU policy.

Commissioner dismisses 'fake news' over farm payments

Debate on farm safety

Phil Hogan
EBS

Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan picks up on the debate this morning on the new EU long-term budget, in which farm payments are proposed to be cut by 5%.

He defends the Commission's proposal as an attempt to "mitigate" bigger cuts that could have been proposed. He dismisses reports that the cuts amount to 15% as "fake news".

On the matter of safety, he says that over the EU has put in place a "comprehensive" set of laws on occupational health and safety.

He says he would be "more than happy" to explore how money from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy could be better used to promote farm safety.

Question on accidents at EU farms

Next up tonight is an oral question about what the European Commission can do to lower the “unacceptably high” number of fatal accidents at EU farms.

The centre-right EPP group, which tabled the question, has asked whether governments should be able to use EU farm funds to invest in safety schemes.

MEPs debate motion on animal-tested cosmetics

Cosmetics
BBC

MEPs are debating another non-binding motion, this time calling for a worldwide ban on the use of animal testing for cosmetic products.

The sale of animal-tested cosmetics has been banned in the EU since 2013 but around 80% of countries around the world still allow it.

The motion says the European Commission should exclude cosmetics tested on animals from any current or future EU trade agreements.

It also calls on EU governments to push for a worldwide ban through their diplomatic networks.

'We're playing around with their futures'

Debate on treatment of child migrants

European Parliament

Brussels

Portuguese centre-right MEP Carlos Coelho says it is not acceptable that unaccompanied children in Europe are left "languishing for months" before being allocated a guardian.

"We're playing around with their futures," he says.

Spanish Socialist Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar says there should be special refuges for unaccompanied minors, as well as psychological and medical support.

Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar
EBS

MEPs take aim at EU migration policy

Debate on treatment of child migrants

European Parliament

Brussels

Right-wing Polish MEP Marek Jurek says politicians who "encouraged" migrants to come to the EU should bear some responsibility for unaccompanied children.

UKIP's Margot Parker says the passport-free Schengen area, and the EU's "policies and ideology" facilitate the trafficking of children.

Swedish MEP: Motion a 'call to action' for EU states

Debate on treatment of child migrants

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt
EBS

Swedish centre-right MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt says tomorrow's resolution should be a "call to action" for EU governments to protect children better.

All children from the age of six must be registered using fingerprints, without using force, she says.

Children should not be detained in camps and should be treated as EU citizens in any criminal cases, she adds.

Education should include the teaching of European languages, she tells MEPs, as well as "respect for women and the rule of law".

Child migrants: Tomorrow's resolution

Migrants at a camp
Reuters

Tomorrow morning, MEPs will vote on a non-binding resolution setting out action they would like to see in this area at an EU level.

The draft says that national governments should speed up their procedures for appointing guardians for migrant children that arrive unaccompanied.

It says all child migrants should get access to “dignified accommodation”, healthcare and education, including preparatory language classes if needed.

It also calls on governments to support efforts to establish an EU network of guardians for unaccompanied children.

MEPs debate treatment of child migrants

European Parliament

Brussels

MEPs are now debating the treatment of child migrants in EU countries.

A group of MEPs has tabled an oral question to the European Commission asking how well an EU action plan in this area launched last year is being enforced.

It also asks what the Commission is doing to ensure child asylum seekers are integrated into school.

EU law says this should happen no later than three months after an asylum application is lodged.

EU representatives decline to comment on case specifically

Debate on sex attack trial in Spain

European Parliament

Brussels

Monika Panayotova
EBS

Monika Panayotova, deputy minister of Bulgaria's EU presidency, says it "wouldn't be appropriate" for her to comment on a criminal case in a national court.

"It's not the role of the Council to interfere in the process," she says.

However she says EU members have always condemned violence against women.

Commissioner Vera Jourova also says it would not be appropriate for her to comment on the case itself, but she says she trusts that the Spanish justice system to deliver a "swift and fair outcome".

MEPs debate sex attack trial in Spain

European Parliament

Brussels

Protest in Pamplona
AFP
Thousands of people have taken part in protests against the verdict

MEPs are now debating a recent trial in Spain which saw five men jailed for sexually abusing a young woman during the famous San Fermin bull-running festival.

All five were sentenced to nine years in prison for their part in the attack, which they filmed, during the festival in Pamplona in July 2016.

The case has sparked controversy because the court acquitted them of the charge of rape – a decision that has been questioned by some politicians and human rights groups.

The Spanish government has promised to revise the framing of the country's rape laws, with opposition parties also calling for changes.

Both the woman and the defendants say they will appeal against the verdict.

Commissioner calls on states to ratify Istanbul Convention

Debate on protection of stalking victims

European Parliament

Brussels

Vera Jourova
EBS

Vera Jourova tells MEPs that making stalking a crime is "crucial", and that "all of us" should push for every EU state to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

Making stalking a criminal offence is an obligation on states that sign up to the international treaty, which aims to reduce violence against women and girls.

So far, only 17 of the 28 EU states have ratified the document.

She adds however that although neither Ireland nor the UK has ratified the Convention, stalking is a criminal offence in both countries.

MEPs debate protection for victims of stalking

European Parliament

Brussels

MEPs have now been joined by Gender Equality Commissioner Vera Jourova to debate protection for the victims of stalking within the EU.

MEPs debate report on sustainable transport

Tram passes under bridge in Berlin
BBC

MEPs are now debating a report from the regional affairs committee about spending on transport projects from the EU’s “cohesion” funds.

Cohesion funding goes towards funding new infrastructure in poorer regions, in a bid to reduce economic differences across the EU.

The report concentrates on how the funds are used to promote sustainable transport.

MEPs’ report: What does it say?

Debate on fraud against the EU budget

Man with his hands full of cigarettes
PA
The report says cigarette smuggling is a "major source of organised crime"

The draft report says co-operation between national authorities and the European Commission over tackling fraud is “not effective enough”.

Co-operation is especially important since member states manage around 74% of EU spending and are responsible for collecting almost all EU revenue.

It also criticises the fact that not all countries have adopted anti-fraud strategies for EU funds.

It also says tobacco smuggling has “intensified in recent years”, leaving an estimated €10bn loss to national and EU budgets.

French MEP welcomes EU customs action against UK

Debate on fraud against the EU budget

Gilles Pargneaux
EBS

French Socialist Gilles Pargneaux, who drafted the report for the committee, says incidents of fraud have gone down but are still too high.

He is particularity concerned about levels of fraud in EU rural development, cohesion and fisheries policies, he says.

He adds that he welcomes the launch in March of infringement proceedings against the UK over allegedly unpaid customs duties on shoes and textiles imported from China.

The UK is accused of doing too little to prevent fraud after it was warned about the problem by the EU's watchdog Olaf in 2017.

He says the matter should become part of negotiations over the UK's 'Brexit bill'.

Levels of fraud of EU funds debated

MEPs are now debating another report from the budgetary control committee, this time on efforts to reduce fraud against the EU budget.

According to the European Commission, around 1,400 cases of fraudulent misspending were reported in 2016, involving €391m.

The number of cases was down 3.5% on the year before, with the amount at stake down 39%. The largest number of cases came from Romania, Poland and Slovenia.

The draft report will be put to a final vote tomorrow.

MEP calls for EU sanctions to be extended

Charles Tannock
EBS

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock says that the forthcoming presidential elections will be "merely a coronation", with "virtually all opposition parties" banned from taking part.

He says current EU sanctions against Venezuelan individuals introduced earlier this year are "limited" and should be extended.

Mogherini: Venezuela needs 'credible' timetable for elections

Debate on elections in Venezuela

Federica Mogherini
EBS

Federica Mogherini says Venezuela "urgently needs" a political solution to the current crisis in the country, and calls for talks to ensure a "credible" timetable for the elections.

Traditionally, presidential elections are held in Venezuela in December.

Even with the new postponement, the decision to hold them earlier was widely interpreted by government critics as an attempt to throw the deeply divided opposition coalition into disarray.

She adds that the EU will not be providing election observers for the elections as the current conditions are not suitable.

EU states will "consider the possibility" of further action against Venezuela if democracy in the country is further undermined, she warns.

MEPs debate postponed elections in Venezuela

President Nicolás Maduro
AFP
President Nicolás Maduro has registered to run for a second six-year term

MEPs have now been joined by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini to debate the postponement of presidential elections in Venezuela.

They decided to add a debate on the elections to today's agenda at the opening of the sitting. Elections originally scheduled for 22 April have been pushed back by a month.

The move came after an agreement was reached between the government and a small number of opposition parties.

The main opposition Democratic Unity coalition has said it would be maintaining a planned boycott, saying the elections would still be fraudulent.

EU budget 'not acceptable' for the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister tweets:

What’s in MEPs’ report?

Debate on European Investment Bank

EIB sign
Reuters

The report expresses concern about the geographical spread of EIB lending during 2016.

It points out that 70% of lending during the year went to six EU countries: Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Poland and the UK.

It calls for EIB management to inform MEPs about the impact to the bank of Brexit.

It also criticises the “large share” of investments in fossil-fuel projects under the EU’s flagship investment plan, which is partially funded by the EIB.

MEPs debate report on EU investment bank

European Parliament

Brussels

Next up, MEPs are debating a draft report from the budgetary control committee about the work of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2016.

The Luxembourg-headquartered EIB lends money on low-interest, long-term deals for big infrastructure projects.

It is financed partially through money given by EU member states, but mostly by money it raises on the international capital markets, mainly through issuing bonds.

The draft report will be put to a final vote tomorrow morning.

'No business as usual' after Brexit - Oettinger

Debate on long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

Gunther Oettinger
EBS

Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger points out that the proposal today is "no more, no less" than an "initial draft".

Despite the many differences of opinion within the European Parliament, he urges MEPs look at the "big picture" on budget matters.

He calls on MEPs to recognise that the departure of the UK - whom he refers to as a "rich uncle" - will bring the need for change.

"We cannot pretend that it will be business as usual," he says.

British government 'might have liked' EU budget proposal

The Guardian's Brussels Correspondent tweets:

MEPs criticise cuts to agricultural spending

Debate on long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

Polish centre-right MEP Czesław Adam Siekierski criticises the proposed cuts to farm payments, which he calls "very unjust".

"It might out many agricultural holdings in an extremely difficult situation," he says.

Another MEP from the centre-right group, Italian Salvatore Cicu, also expresses concern to cuts in the "strategic and fundamental" area of agriculture.

There will be a need to "revisit" the allocation given over the Common Agricultural Policy in the European Commission's proposals, he says.

EU revenue – back to the future?

Debate on long-term EU budget

Treaty of Rome signing ceremony
AFP
The Treaty of Rome created the European Economic Community

The EU has three main sources of revenue: customs duties on imports from outside the EU, levies on national VAT bases and national contributions.

Of these, national contributions make up the biggest share of revenue – around 70% in 2015. They have increased dramatically as a share of revenue since the 1980s.

In March, the European Parliament called for national contributions to be reduced by 40%, with new sources of revenue making up the difference.

The assembly suggested new levies on corporation tax, environment taxes or the digital sector as ideas for raising income for EU spending.

Two of these have made their way into the European Commission text presented today.

In their report, MEPs argued that funding from national contributions was only envisaged as a “transitional” measure in the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

UKIP MEP: EU 'living in dreamland'

Debate on long-term EU budget

Patrick O'Flynn
EBS

UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn says the EU should be cutting back more given that after Brexit it will have lost one of its biggest net contributors.

Today's announcement shows the European Commission is "living in dreamland", he says.

Green MEP: Powers will increase independence of EU

Debate on long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

German Green MEP Ska Keller welcomes the additional powers for the EU to raise more of its own revenue.

This will make the union more independent of the "whims" of national governments, she says. She also calls for more money for international aid spending.

Next EU budget: What's been proposed?

Debate on long-term EU budget

Close-up of Euro note
Getty Creative Stock

Here are the main points from today's European Commission proposal:

  • 5% cut to the Common Agricultural Policy
  • €21bn more for border management, migration and refugee flows
  • 64% increase in research, innovation and digital investment
  • Funding for the Erasmus+ student scheme doubled
  • a levy on revenue from the EU's carbon trading scheme
  • national contributions on non-recycled plastic packaging waste

Liberal group leader: Give MEPs powers over revenue

Debate on long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

There's another German intervention, this time from Bernd Kolmel from the conservative ECR group.

He thanks the European Commission for "cutting back" on the initial version of the budget called for by the European Parliament earlier in the year. Further cuts are needed, he adds.

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group, says the Commission's proposed budget is not a "revolution" but is certainly a "break from the past".

He welcomes the proposals for new ways for the EU to raise revenue, but threatens that the European Parliament will not agree to the budget without more powers over revenue raising.

MEPs should have "full responsibility", alongside national governments, for not just how the EU spends money but how it raises it as well, he adds.

He also welcomes an element in the Commission's proposal linking EU funding to respect of the rule of law. Countries that do not respect EU values "don't need EU money", he says.

Guy Verhfostadt
EBS

German MEP: Commission text 'good starting point'

Debate on EU long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Manfred Weber
EBS

German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right EPP group, says there is a need for "self-criticism" on the budget.

The issue of fraud against the budget cannot be ignored, he says. However he welcomes the Commission's initial proposal as a good "starting point" for negotiations.

He calls for talks to conclude before the next European Parliament elections in May next year.

German MEP Udo Bullman, the leader of the Socialist and Democrat group, says he has doubts about where the Commission's proposals contain adequate vision.

He says he had hoped for more ways to raise EU revenue from digital companies.

Commissioner announces Frontex staff target

Debate on EU long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

Gunther Oettinger
EBS

Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger outlines the spending priorities in the Commission's draft text, including more money for education programmes and research.

Highlighting proposals to spend more money on borders, he says EU borders agency Frontex should go from 1,200 to 10,000 staff by 2027.

He outlines proposed new sources of EU revenue, including a tax on plastics, on corporation tax and a levy on revenues from the EU's carbon trading scheme.

These new sources of EU income will fill around half of the gap in the budget left by Brexit, he adds.

EU budget: By the numbers

BBC Brussels Reporter tweets:

Juncker: New EU budget outlay 'reasonable'

Debate on long-term EU budget

European Parliament

Brussels

Jean-Claude Juncker
EBS

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in the chamber and speaks first, outlining the overall vision behind the budget.

The next budget, he says is "modern" and "simplified", and will provide for the ambition of creating a more "social Europe".

Total spending in the Commission's draft proposal will amount to 1.11% of the EU's gross national income, which he calls "reasonable".

The new budget will provide greater flexibility for year-to-year spending, he says.

He also calls for a recently extended exemption for the EU on new US steel and aluminium tariffs to be made "unconditional and permanent".

Good afternoon

Hello and welcome to coverage of this 'mini plenary' sitting of the European Parliament in Brussels.

First up today, EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is presenting details of the EU's next long-term budget, which were announced earlier today.

The final version of the long-term budget, which will run from 2021, will have to be agreed between all EU governments and the European Parliament.