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Summary

  1. This morning's session began at 08.00 BST with a debate on last week's emergency EU summit on preventing the death of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
  2. This afternoon, MEPs will first debated the situation in Burundi, followed by the international response to this month's attack by the al-Shabab terror group on Garissa University College in Kenya.
  3. MEPs also debated how EU institutions might be able to prevent the destruction and plundering of cultural sites in Iraq and Syria by Islamic State (IS).
  4. Parliament also debated a resolution on the 13-year prison sentence recently given to Mohamed Nasheed, a former president of the Maldives.
  5. In the evening, MEPs debated progress made towards EU membership by Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the the amount of money EU countries give in overseas aid.
  6. The sitting closed with a debate on getting the EU to sign up to the Marrakesh Treaty.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    And with that, tonight's sitting comes to a close.

    MEPs will be back in the hemicycle tomorrow morning from 07.30 BST when they will be debating the spread of the bacterial disease affecting thousands of hectares of olive trees in Italy, the performance of the European Investment Bank and a series of human rights debates.

  2. Right to books

    Spanish left-wing MEP Ángela Vallina lends her support for EU ratification of the treaty, stating that access to culture is a fundamental right but that only only 1% of publications are available in a form accessible to people with visual impairments.

    Ángela Vallina
  3. Calls for EU progress

    Czech centre-right member MEP Pavel Svoboda says that although EU signed the Treaty in 2014, it has not yet been ratified.

    He gives a brief outline of the main purpose of the document - to enable some copyright restrictions to be dropped in order to permit "cross-border exchange" of works in accessible forms of publication, on a non-profit basis.

    He says ratification of the treaty would present a "significant improvement" for the visually impaired, and asks for an explanation of why it has not yet been ratified in the Council of Ministers.

    He adds that if there are still legal doubts about whether signing up to the treaty falls within the "competence" of the EU, then he would like to see the Council take an "active attitude" to solving the legal dispute.

    Pavel Svoboda
  4. Last debate

    That's the debate on overseas aid spending finished.

    The last item on tonight's agenda - after a quick break - is another oral question to the Commission and Council of Ministers - this time from Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee.

    They are asking for greater clarity on the process for getting the EU to sign up to the Marrakesh Treaty - an international agreement seeking to set limits to copyright rules in order to make it easier for visually impaired people to gain access to publications accessible to them, such as those published in Braille.

  5. Concern at aid spending

    Marina Albiol Guzman, from the left-wing GUE group, says that the development money given by rich to poor countries does not match the historical debt payments going in the other direction, which she puts down to the legacy of colonisation.

    She also expresses concern about the final destination of development money, which she says often ends up "lining the pockets of the elite".

    Her scepticism is echoed by UKIP's Diane James, who says payments made in overseas aid are "notoriously prone to abuse".

  6. Development context

    This of course is a big year in the world of international development - the UN and its international partners are currently debating renewal of the so-called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed in 2000, that are due to expire at the end of 2015.

    The MDGs introduced time-bound targets for poverty reduction.

    A UN report on progress towards achieving the current goals noted that:

    • The number of people living in "extreme poverty" has come down by 700 million since 1990
    • Over 2.3 billion people gained access to an improved source of drinking water between 1990 and 2012
    • Efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995

    However, the report also noted that more needs to be done if targets are to be reached for reducing child mortality, maternal mortality, and greenhouse gases.

    UN logo
  7. Commission response

    Commissioner Mimica says the Commission is still a strong supporter of the idea that countries should meet their overseas target, and adds that some improvements have been made despite turbulence in the EU economy in recent years.

    He says that, however, that although the Commission will push for states to "re-commit" to their targets, it is "ultimately up to member states to come to a consensus on this issue".

    Commissioner Mimica
  8. Calls for renewed commitment

    British Labour MEP Linda McAvan, a member of the Parliament's Development Committee which has asked for this debate, says encouraging the member states to meet the 0.7% commitment is "essential to remaining credible" with regards to the bloc's overseas aid efforts.

    She says that a commitment to meet these targets will be essential to the success of an upcoming international aid conference in Addis Ababa.

    She adds it has been "no secret" that many member states have struggled with this target, but that improvements in 11 member states show that it is "not all bad news" on the development front.

    She concludes that discussions on the targets will be a "crucial issue" at a meeting of EU leaders scheduled for May 26 - and states that although she is not expecting any new commitments from EU countries, she hopes to hear renewed commitment to "what has already been agreed".

    Linda McAvan
  9. Overseas aid debate

    That's the debate on the EU regulation to suspend preferential trading relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina finished.

    Next up, MEPs are going to be debating the amount of money EU countries give in overseas aid as a proportion of their national income (GDP).

    Member states pledged in 2005 to raise their aid contributions - known as their Official Development Assistance (ODA) - to 0.7% of GDP by this year.

    Countries that joined the EU after 2004 have made a less ambitious commitment of giving 0.33%.

    As of 2013, only four EU countries were meeting their targets.

  10. Background on Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of two semi-autonomous regions - the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serb Republic.

    Each has its own president, government, parliament, police and other bodies.

    The country - now an independent state - is recovering from a devastating three-year war which accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

    The 1992-1995 conflict centred on whether Bosnia should stay in the Yugoslav Federation, or whether it should become independent.

    Its three main ethnic groups are Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs.

    It is considered one of the most corruption-prone states in Europe, mainly on account of the legacy of deep ethnic and political divisions left by the 1992-1995 war and by the country's complex administrative framework.

  11. Trade preferences debate

    Italian Socialist Goffredo Maria Bettini outlines the nature of his report, which he has produced as Parliament's "rapporteur", or lead negotiator: it is on the impending suspension of certain preferential trading conditions with Bosnia and Herzegovina on 1 January next year.

    This has been recommended by the Commission because of the country's refusal to sign up to an updated version of an EU trade agreement, which has been changed to reflect the accession of Croatia - one of its biggest trading partners - to the EU in 2013.

    Croatia's accession meant that it had to leave CEFTA, the regional agreement that facilitates trade in the Balkans - meaning it no longer enjoys duty free access to Bosnia and Herzegovina's market.

    Mr Bettini says he thinks the "punitive" part of the Commission's proposals is fair, and argues that it should not be considered a "punishment".

    He hopes the impending Stabilisation Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina - due to come into force in June - will provide a new opportunity to make progress on the deadlock.

    Goffredo Maria Bettini
  12. Next debate begins

    That's the debate on progress towards EU membership made by Bosnia and Herzegovina finished - MEPs will be voting on their resolution on Thursday.

    However, MEPs will remain focused on the country for the time being, as they are now going to debate an EU regulation on its preferential trading preferences.

  13. Outline of 'new approach'

    Latvian EU Affairs minister Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica says much remains to be done in the country's drive towards EU membership, and underlines that the "primary responsibility" for enacting necessary reforms lies with Bosnia and Herzegovina itself.

    She says she welcomes the EU's "new approach" agreed last December to generate fresh momentum in the country's membership and "finally move forward".

    She said the Council set out the required reforms that are necessary for talks to progress, such as moves towards a "functioning market economy".

  14. Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina begins

    That's the debate on Albania's EU membership prospects finished - the Parliament's resolution will be put to the vote tomorrow.

    Next, MEPs will debate progress towards EU membership made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, the only western Balkan country that has not yet formally applied to join the EU.

    Last week, the Council of Ministers formally activated the country's EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - which is now expected to come into force this June.

    This SAA is supposed to provide a basis for the country to make further moves in its accession process, as well as providing sets of political and economic objectives and the gradual establishment of a free trade area.

  15. Commission closes debate

    Closing the debate on behalf of the Commission, Development Commissioner Neven Mimica says the country's EU accession prospects are "in its own hands", and reaffirms the Commission's commitment to assisting the country's path to membership.

    He repeats calls made by several MEPs for the accountability and independence of the Albanian judiciary to be strengthened and for the country's economy to be reformed, although ne notes that co-operation between the government and the opposition will be required to make this happen.

    Neven Mimica
  16. Parliament's resolution

    MEPs' resolution, which has been drafted by German Socialist Knut Fleckenstein and will be put to the vote tomorrow, commends the "impressive" progress made towards membership by Albania.

    However, it also voices concern over ongoing political polarisation, the judiciary and corruption issues, and calls for continued political will and concrete action to pursue EU-related reforms, in particular to public administration.

  17. Call to turn page on communist past

    Hungarian centre-right MEP Laszlo Tokes says that Albania must remove the "remaining remnants" of its communist past and seek to strengthen the protection of ethnic and linguistic minorities - which he says is a key ingredient in achieving political stability in the Balkans.

    He calls for these efforts to be supported by EU funding.

    Laszlo Tokes
  18. Albania's relationship with the EU

    Albania is not expected to join the EU until 2020 at the earliest.

    The EU has urged Albania to do more to tackle corruption and organised crime, especially crime relating to immigration and human trafficking, and drugs.

    Since 15 December 2010 Albanians with biometric passports have been able to travel visa-free to the Schengen zone, which includes most EU countries.

    Border controls are minimal under the Schengen accord, but the EU will keep a close watch on the flow of visitors from the Western Balkans.

    The EU and Albania concluded a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), seen as the first step towards membership, in June 2006.

    The negotiations took three-and-a-half years - three times longer than they took in Croatia's and Macedonia's case.

  19. No new EU members before 2019

    It's worth pointing out that, prior to taking office, current Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker ruled out any enlargement of the EU during the term of the current executive - which is due to end in 2019.

    "It's hard to imagine that one of the candidate states with whom we are negotiating will have, in time, met all the accession criteria," he said in July.

  20. Albania debate begins

    First up, MEPs will debate progress made towards membership by Albania, which was granted official EU candidate status last year but has yet to start formal accession negotiations.

    The European Commission's report on progress made by the country during 2014 noted efforts that have been made to reform the judiciary, fight corruption and organised crime, and crack down on drug-related issues.

    However, it also said that more needs to be done to de-politicise the country's judiciary, and problems remain with enforcement of the rule of law, trafficking and human rights protection.

    Tirana
    Image caption: The central square in the Albanian capital, Tirana
  21. EU progress reports debates

    That's the debate on the Maldives finished - MEPs will vote on their resolution on Thursday.

    Next up, MEPs are going to be joined by the EU's Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, to debate reform efforts made during last year by Albania - an official candidate country since last June - and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has yet to officially apply.

  22. Call for release and judicial reform

    British Conservative MEP Charles Tannock expresses his concern for the situation in the Maldives, which he says is a country "more known for tourism than for militancy".

    He says in the resolution that MEPs will vote on tomorrow, the ECR group - in which British Conservatives sit - will call for the immediate release of Mr Nasheed and the reform of the judicial system in the Maldives.

    Charles Tannock
  23. Legal concerns

    Development Commissioner Neven Mimica, performing rather a long stint representing the EU executive in a number of debates this afternoon, says that the arrest of Mr Nasheed has "exacerbated" already existing tensions in the country.

    He adds that there have been widespread concerns about the conduct of the latest hearing, noting that it took place without legal representation, and that the EU has said this raises serious questions about respect for the rule of law - which he says is one of the "founding principles" of the 28-member bloc.

    He says EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has agreed to a request to send a legal expert to the country to examine the case.

  24. What happened to Mohamed Nasheed?

    Mr Nasheed was convicted last month of ordering the arrest of a judge while in office.

    He was cleared of the charges in February, but was later re-arrested and charged under anti-terrorism laws.

    His lawyers quit during the second trial, which they said was biased and intended to end his political career.

    Mr Nasheed
  25. Next debate: Maldives president

    That's the debate on the theft of cultural artefacts by Islamic State finished.

    Next, MEPs are debating the 13-year prison sentence recently given to Mohamed Nasheed, a former president of the Maldives, with Development Commissioner Neven Mimica.

    MEPs are due to vote on a resolution tomorrow.

  26. Why?

    In 60 seconds, BBC News explains: Why is Islamic State destroying Iraq's history?

  27. Hatra destruction

    On of the most prominent examples of the destruction of cultural sites came last month, when Iraqi officials said that IS militants had destroyed ruins at the ancient city of Hatra, which was founded in the days of the Parthian Empire over 2,000 years ago.

    Militants have also bulldozed ruins at the Assyrian city of Nimrud and destroyed museum artefacts in Mosul.

    Unesco head Irina Bokova said the destruction of Hatra marked a "turning point" in the group's "appalling strategy of cultural cleansing" in Iraq.

    Hatra
  28. Strategy outlined

    Dutch Liberal Marietje Schaake says that the trade in looted goods can never be justified, since the profits it generates support the "dogmatic campaign of death and destruction" by IS.

    She says that the EU needs to be "strong" on the issue, and should put the prevention of damage to cultural sites as part of its foreign relations strategy with the Middle East.

  29. Heritage 'disaster'

    British Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman, who leads the Parliament's Iraq delegation, says there is a need to improve legal frameworks to prevent the trade in illicitly-acquired goods.

    He adds that there is a need to keep a "clear list" of the damage done and artefacts taken, which he calls "one of the worst cultural heritage disasters of all time".

    David Campbell Bannerman
  30. Safeguarding cultural heritage

    Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica - the Latvian EU Affairs minister - says that the EU has a "common responsibility" to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Middle East - adding that the looting of artefacts in the Middle East is not just a tragedy for the Syrian and Iraqi people, but a loss for "the entire world".

    She is speaking in the chamber today because Latvia currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of Ministers, which is the institution representing the EU's 28 member states.

    Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica
  31. Debate on destruction of cultural sites by IS

    As well as impoverishing the artistic heritage of the Middle East, the selling of valuable artefacts has been a rich source of funding for terrorist activities.

    Parliament's Culture Committee has tabled oral questions to both institutions asking what they are prepared to do to help stop the practice, which has already been condemned by the United Nations (UN).

    Specifically, MEPs want to know:

    • whether the Commission and member states will block the trade in the EU member states of illegally-removed cultural objects
    • whether they see the need to establish a new way of co-operating with UNESCO on the matter
    • whether they will co-operate with the European Space Agency, to use their satellites to document damage to cultural sites
    • whether they intend to set up a "dedicated unit" with relevant international organisations to tackle cultural looting.
  32. Al-Shabab debate over

    That's the debate on this month's attack by al-Shabab on a university in Kenya finished. MEPs will vote on their resolution on Thursday.

    MEPs are now going to debate the destruction of cultural sites in the Middle East by Islamic State (IS) with Commissioner Neven Mimica and Latvian EU Affairs Minister Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica from the Council of Ministers.

    gold coins
  33. Focus on religion

    Italian Five Star MEP Ignazio Corrao has some criticism for the nature of the debate so far - adding that is "not a pretty sight" to see the chamber squabbling over the nature and number of references in tomorrow's resolution that refer to Christians and Christianity.

    He says that this focus on the religion of the victims sends out a "negative image".

    Ignazio Corrao
  34. What is al-Shabab doing in Kenya?

    Al-Shabab has staged numerous attacks in Kenya. The 2 April massacre at Garissa University, near the border with Somalia, is the bloodiest so far.

    Previously, the worst attack was on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre in 2013, when at least 68 people died.

    In Westgate, and other attacks, the militants spared Muslims, while killing those unable to recite verses from the Koran.

    There are also regular gun and grenade attacks attributed to al-Shabab both in border areas, where many Kenyans are ethnic Somalis, and in Nairobi.

    Kenya has sent its troops into Somali territory, where they have joined the African Union force battling the militants.

    Al-Shabab has also set up a recruiting network in Kenya, especially around the port city of Mombasa, which has a large Muslim population.

  35. Who are al-Shabab?

    Al-Shabab means "The Youth" in Arabic.

    It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia's now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

    There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab, from neighbouring countries, as well as the US and Europe.

    It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

    Al-Shabab
  36. Kenyan situation

    Spanish Socialist Elena Valenciano says she fears there is "a great deal of ignorance" about the situation in Kenya.

    She calls on the EU to help Kenya to shore up its security arrangements, arguing that the "war against Kenya" by Islamist militants is "a war against all of us".

    Elena Valenciano
  37. Worrying attacks

    International Co-operation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica says the Commission finds the trend for targeted attacks against Christians to be "extremely worrying".

    He calls for a "global approach to international efforts to tackle terrorists, and says the EU is working to understand the radicalisation threat around the world.

  38. New debate

    That brings the statement and debate on Burundi to a close.

    Next, MEPs are going to be debating the attack by the al-Shabab terror group on Garissa University College in north-eastern Kenya earlier this month, in which 148 people were killed.

    MEPs will vote tomorrow on a resolution condemning the attack and setting out its recommendations for international action.

    Following a request by the centre-right EPP group - approved by the Parliament on Monday - the wording of the debate was changed to set the debate within the context of the "persecution of the Christians around the world".

  39. Fears of new conflict

    Italian MEP Gianni Pitella, the leader of the Socialist and Democrats group that requested this debate, says he fears the latest protests could "spark a whole new wave of ethnic conflict" in the country.

    He calls for the EU to "exercise pressure" on President Nkurunziza - who he says should not be allowed to stand for re-election.

    Gianni Pitella
  40. Post update

    @TheProgressives

    S&D Group ‏tweets: .@giannipittella "I ask the president of #Burundi: Do you want to be an actor of peace or to be an obstacle to the democratic process?"

  41. EU-Burundian talks

    International Co-operation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica, speaking on behalf of EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, says he is "appalled" by measures taken against protesters, civil rights activists and journalists in the country.

    He adds that he deplores restrictions on the media, which he says prevent Burundians from "understanding what is going on around them".

    He says the "first goal" of the international community should be to secure fair elections - scheduled to be held in June - and adds that the EU is sending an electoral observation mission to the country.

    He also tells the chamber that the EU heads of mission are holding "intensified political dialogue" with the Burundian authorities.

    Neven Mimica
  42. New debate

    German MEP Alexander Lambsdorff - one of the Parliament's 14 vice-presidents - says that a debate has been added to tomorrow's agenda on the recent executions in Indonesia.

  43. Situation in Burundi

    Hello and welcome back to BBC Democracy Live's coverage of this afternoon's sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    First up this afternoon, MEPs are going to hold a debate requested by the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group at the start of the week on the situation in Burundi.

    Police in the country have been firing tear gas at activists protesting against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in office.

    It was reported earlier today by the AFP news agency that messaging services including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Tango have been cut off in the country by regulators.

    The security forces have also stopped private radio stations from doing live broadcasts about the demonstrations.

    Protests in Burundi
  44. Explanations

    MEPs will now be allowed to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

  45. Amendment on Syrian refugees

    The amendment tabled by the Greens to the joint motion, calling for the immediate lifting of visa requirements for Syrian refugees, was defeated by a large majority, revealing a broad left-right split in the chamber:

    Result of vote
  46. Post update

    @JonathanArnott

    UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott ‏tweets: European Parliament just voted 438-229 for binding EU quotas to distribute asylum seekers to member states. @UKIP MEPs voted against.

  47. Resolution on asylum seekers

    MEPs pass a joint resolution agreed between the EPP, S&D, Liberla ALDE and Green/EFA political groups, calling for the Commission to set a "binding quota" for the distribution of asylum seekers among EU countries.

    The non-binding text also calls for:

    • member states to provide the "necessary resources" to search-and-rescue operations, and more cash for Frontex, the EU border agency
    • an expansion in the operational area of Triton, the EU's search-and-rescue operations
    • "the strongest possible" criminal sanctions against people smugglers.
  48. Bangladesh agreement

    MEPs also pass their resolution to set out ways to improve the application of the EU's "sustainability compact" with Bangladesh, which it signed with the country following the collapse of the Rana Plaza textiles factory in 2013.

  49. Alcohol plan

    MEPs pass a resolution calling on the Commission to come up with a new EU action plan on alcohol consumption as soon as possible, stating that such a plan would help national governments in their efforts to reduce "alcohol-related harm".

    It calls for the Commission to bring forward a new law before the end of next year to have the calorie content of alcoholic drinks stated on labels.

    An amendment tabled by the EPP to limit calling for labels just to "alcopops" does not pass.

  50. Post update

    @mvanhulten

    Campaigner and analyst Michiel van Hulten tweets: "We are facing restrictions on our freedom to perform our duties". Parliamentarians in a dictatorship? No, MEPs who dislike transparency.

  51. Prosecution office deadlock

    MEPs pass a resolution repeating their call for the establishment of a European Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) for investigating fraud in the EU budget - currently deadlocked politically in the Council due to disagreement among the member states.

  52. Spending on Parliament

    Next up, MEPs are voting on amendments to a report by the Parliament's budgets committee making recommendations the level of spending for the European Parliament next year from the EU budget.

    The resolution seeks to set the Parliament's administrative budget for next year at €1.82bn, a 1.6% increase on last year's budget.

    It names "exceptional" spending required in order to beef up security of Parliament buildings and its presence online as the source of €15m of this increase.

    The amended resolution is passed.

  53. MFF regulation

    MEPs approve their position on the EU regulation of so-called "money market funds" prepared by the British Labour MEP Neena Gill - meaning informal negotiations on the text can now begin with member states.

    So as not to put the text to a formal first-reading vote at this point, she asks for her legislative resolution to be sent back to the committee.

    This is in the hope that, once an agreed text has been found with national ministers, MEPs will be able to close the legislative procedure at a "first reading" stage.

  54. Frontex spending

    MEPs vote to sign off the spending in 2013 by Frontex, the EU's borders agency.

  55. Single vote? No...

    There is a request from British Labour MEP Richard Corbett to roll together the rest of the reports - which do not have amendments tabled to them - into a single vote.

    However, after some procedural squabbling, it is decided that this will not take place because the recommendations of the budgets committee (on whether to approve spending or not) are not the same in all cases.

  56. Signing off postponed

    MEPs approve a report from the Budgets Committee recommending that signing off on the spending of the European Council and the Council of Ministers during 2013 is postponed.

  57. Spending projects

    MEPs are now voting on a package of 52 reports to to sign off spending by a number of EU agencies and projects in the 2013 financial year.

    In the jargon, this process is known as granting "discharge" to the spending, and is meant to give the Parliament a role in scrutinising the way in which EU money is spent.

  58. Reports passed

    MEPs pass a series of rather procedural reports to:

    • Repeal a redundant EU regulation relating to trade limits in textile products from certain non-EU countries
    • Codify aspects of certain trade agreements.
  59. Funding changes

    First up, MEPs approve by a massive majority a legislative report that approves funding changes announced by the Commission last February to the European Youth Initiative, a scheme it proposed in 2012 to reduce youth joblessness in Europe.

    The Commission has said it wants to make around a third of the 2014-2020 budget available in this year alone - around €1bn out of a €3.2 billion tranche.

  60. Post update

    @MEPStandingUp4U

    MEP-MartinaAnderson ‏tweets: Team SF in the European Parliament in Strasbourg protests inside the chamber about Europe's Sinking Shame

    MEPs protest
  61. Voting session

    MEPs are now taking their seats for today's voting session.

  62. Europe's dilemma

    European Council head Donald Tusk wraps up the debate by saying the EU faces a "dilemma", relating to the fact that it "cannot open [its] borders to everyone".

    He adds, however, that there is a need for a "better functioning" asylum system.

    Donald Tusk
  63. Commission view

    Closing for the Commission, Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tells MEPs that the time has come for the EU "to pass from words to actions", stating that "more needs to be done" over and above what was agreed between leaders last week.

    He says that the Commission will present its new migration strategy on 13 May, which will have a "geographically broad" scope that will encompass not just the Mediterranean but also other external European borders.

    He says there is a need for the EU to step up its engagement with "countries of origin and transit".

    He adds that he sees a "clear solidarity" in the chamber for saving lives.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos
  64. Post update

    @EPPGroup

    EPP Group ‏tweets: "Deaths in #Mediterranean are a tragedy that moves us all & an incentive to act" More from statement of @ManfredWeber

  65. Green group amendments

    Although it has signed up to the joint resolution, the Green group has tabled a number of amendments to it, which will be voted on separately.

    One inserts a line to say that the EU and member states are responsible for "contributing" to human smuggling by building border fences.

    Another calls for visa requirements for Syrian refugees to be lifted.

    The Green group only has 50 MEPs, however, so will face a very uphill battle in getting the amendments passed.

  66. Post update

    @DelavierDavid

    European Relations @SciencesPo38 Delavier David ‏tweets: Good to hear from great and committed people, #migrantcrisis #jesuismigrant #PlenPE @ckyenge @ClaudeMoraesMEP

  67. Support for quota system

    German Christian Democrat Elmar Brok, who chairs the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, points out that there are not just migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, but also in other parts of the world, particularly Africa, where he urges the EU to promote "better governance" through its external action and development policies.

    He lends his support to the idea of an EU quota system, stating that such a scheme would set a "clear" framework for how migrants are to be settled from which "nobody can retract".

  68. Split within Europe itself

    Greek Syriza MEP Kostas Chrysogonos says that migration has "never been seen" as problem for Europe as a whole, with responsibility for dealing with migrants left largely to the member states.

    He adds that the final destination of many migrants is not, however, southern European countries - but northern European countries, whom he accuses of not "assuming their responsibilities" in accepting them.

    Kostas Chrysogonos
  69. Background on migration

    Earlier this month, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported that in 2015 so far, a total of 36,390 migrants had reached Italy, Greece and Malta by sea.

    It put the number of dead at 1,750 and missing at 1,776 - including those in the shipwreck on 19 April which claimed an estimated 800 lives.

    The largest migrant group by nationality in 2015 is Syrians - 8,865 so far.

    Then come migrants from Eritrea (3,363), Somalia (2,908) and Afghanistan (2,371). Many of the others are sub-Saharan Africans.

    Migrants brought to Malta on an Italian ship
  70. Post update

    @SanZsir

    EU correspondent @Euronews Sándor Zsíros tweets: Meps say je suis un migrant in @Europarl_EN in protest for better #migration policies.

    MEPs protest
  71. Binding quota: what it means

    The joint resolution is calling for the Commission - the EU's executive - to set a "binding quota" for how the numbers of asylum seekers should be shared out between the 28 member states.

    Greater sharing of migrants was called for by the Parliament in a resolution last December - although a binding quota was not specifically mentioned in that text, merely the need for "solidarity" between member states.

    The resolution is not binding on the Commission - but would state the political position of the Parliament.

    As Mr Juncker said at the start of this debate, the Commission is due to unveil new measures for dealing with migration in an EU strategy due to be presented next month.

    The joint text has the support of the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green/EFA groups - who between them command a majority in the house.

    However, British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope says his group - the ECR - cannot support the idea, adding that it "will not address the causes" of mass migration to Europe.

  72. Where is the help?

    German Green Ska Keller says that the outcomes of last week's summit were a "disgrace" and questions whether the support offered by the EU was really worthy of the Nobel peace prize it obtained in 2012.

    "Where is the humanitarian rescue mission that we need?" she asks.

    Ska Keller
  73. Where does blame for the crisis lie?

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage lays the blame for the crisis with the decision of European nations to intervene militarily in Libya, which he says was a "huge mistake" that contributed to political instability in the region.

    He points to the more restrictive approach to migration adopted by Australia - which he says has stopped migrants boats from coming and thus has stopped people from drowning.

    Holding up a copy of the EU's common migration policy, he says that the definitions for asylum are "so wide" that they could include people fleeing not only war but also poverty - a definition he says is upheld by Mr Juncker - but that Europe cannot accept "countless millions" of migrants.

    Nigel Farage
  74. Liberal group reaction

    On behalf of the Liberal ALDE group, Dutch MEP Sophia in 't Veld says there is a need for leadership to "take tough decisions" - which she says she feels Mr Juncker is prepared to take but the member states, by and large, are not.

    She has some harsh words for UKIP leader Nigel Farage - whom she accuses of scaremongering and a "populist" attitude to the issue of migration.

    Sophia in 't Veld
  75. Conservative leader response

    Conservative ECR group leader Syed Kamall says that, regretfully, is is not possible for Europe to welcome everyone who might wish to come to its borders.

    In response to a blue card question, he says there is a need to draw a distinction between economic migration and those who are fleeing persecution.

    He points out the need to process asylum applications "quickly" so as to reduce the numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean illegally, and says mechanisms need to put in place to make sure those denied asylum can be returned "quickly".

  76. Parliament's resolution

    MEPs will vote at lunchtime on a resolution agreed between the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green/EFA political groups, that calls for:

    • the Commission to set a "binding quota" for the distribution of asylum seekers among EU countries
    • member states to provide the "necessary resources" to search-and-rescue operations, and more cash for Frontex, the EU border agency
    • an expansion in the operational area of Triton, the EU's search-and-rescue operations
    • "the strongest possible" criminal sanctions against people smugglers

    There are a number of amendments to this resolution - and the Eurosceptic EFDD, the Conservative ECR and left-wing GUE groups all have separate motions.

  77. Call for binding quotas

    Socialist and Democrats group leader and Italian MEP Gianni Pitella says respect for human dignity is "morally binding" on the Parliament, and says that his group is "refusing the logic" of seeing the problem simply as an emergency.

    He calls for "binding mechanisms" on EU countries to set out how asylum seekers should be shared.

    Gianni Pitella
  78. 'Concern' at lack of sharing

    Leader of the centre-right EPP group Manfred Weber says he welcomes the steps to clamp down on people smugglers.

    He says his group is "very concerned" with the current lack of sharing of the number of refugees between European states, and says he looks forward to the Commission's proposals in its upcoming migration strategy for how this should be rectified.

    He adds thought that Europe should not just be "self-critical" but should also be proud of international efforts to reduce instability outside Europe's borders.

  79. Commission response

    To a smattering of applause from MEPs, President Juncker says the response of EU member states to the deaths of more migrants has been "instant but inadequate".

    He says the proposal to boost spending to Triton is simply making up in the loss of resources incurred with the stopping of the Italian-run operation Mare Nostrum that ended last year - which he says is a "temporary cut" that has "cost lives".

    He adds that it is not true Triton's mandate is limited to sea and rescue operations in the waters of member states - he says it can go further than that if given the proper means.

    He says that there is a need for member states to "share refugees geographically", adding that allowing a certain measure of legal migration can reduce the number trying to enter Europe illegally - that the door to Europe must be left "partly ajar".

    President Juncker
  80. Council position

    European Council President Donald Tusk tells MEPs that member states recognised that Mediterranean migration is not just a problem for the south of Europe, but for the "whole of Europe".

    Although he says saving lives remains a short-term priority, member states agreed that there must be greater attempts at stopping "callous" people smugglers from "putting thousands more lives at risk".

    He goes through the agreed points at the summit, including the idea of sending immigration officers to non-EU countries.

    He reiterated, however, that the best way of stopping migrants dying at sea is to to make sure "that they do not get on the boats in the first place".

    Donald Tusk
  81. Sitting begins

    Parliament President Martin Schulz opens the sitting and opens what he says will be a "very emotional" debate on last week's summit.

    Martin Schulz
  82. Background on last week's meeting

    The meeting of EU leaders was called following a sharp increase in the number of migrants who are dying whilst trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.

    Whereas the total number of deaths in 2014 was 3,279, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says it fears the figure for this year could top 30,000, based on the current death rate.

    Leaders agreed in Brussels last week to triple funding of the EU search-and-rescue operation, Triton, to some €120m (£86m) - taking it back to the spending levels of Mare Nostrum, an Italian-run operation that was cancelled last year.

    They also pledged to look at ways to capture and destroy smugglers' boats and deploy immigration officers to non-EU countries.

    Several member states - including the UK - also promised to send ships to assist in search-and-rescue operations.

    Sea rescue
  83. Good Morning

    Hello and welcome to BBC Democracy Live's coverage of this third day of the April plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    MEPs will shortly be joined by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief Donald Tusk to debate last week's emergency EU summit on migration.