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Summary

  1. The sitting opened at 07.30 BST with a debate on reforms to rules governing how the Commission would set safe levels of radioactivity found in food after a radiological accident.
  2. This was followed by debate on a resolution, to be put to the vote at lunchtime, on planned reforms to EU copyright law to be announced later this year.
  3. Before the voting session at 11.00 BST, MEPs heard a short debate on a resolution relating to the European Endowment for Democracy.
  4. After that, MEPs debated four topical human rights cases before votes on resolutions were approved later in the afternoon.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye

    With the four resolutions on the human rights cases approved, the sitting comes to a close. 

    That's it from Strasbourg for a while, as there is no plenary sitting next month due to the summer break. 

    MEPs will next meet for a plenary sitting in September. 

  2. Final case

    That’s the debate on Nabeel Rajab finished – MEPs will vote on their resolution soon.

    Finally this afternoon, MEPs are going to be discussing the case of Michael Yat and Peter Yein Reith – two Christian pastors under arrest in Sudan on charges of espionage.

    Campaign groups have said the charges are false and amount to religious persecution against the two churchmen.

  3. Bahrain relationship

    UKIP's Diane James says the EU is guilty of "getting on its high horse" about human rights whilst at the same time conducting a huge amount of trade with Bahrain.

    She adds that the economic benefit gleaned from this trading relationship has provided economic support to a government guilty of the "mass mistreatment" of its citizens, whilst also claiming that EU arms trading with the country amounts to €15m a year. 

    She tells MEPs this means the bloc is "effectively supporting" the prosecution case against Mr Rajab. 

    Diane James
  4. Third human rights debate

    That’s the debate on the arrested activists in the DRC finished – the vote on the resolution will take place shortly.

    MEPs move to their third human rights case of the afternoon – that of prominent Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who was arrested in April.

    His wife has claimed the arrest was due to tweets he made about torture practices in one of the country’s prisons, and his release has been demanded by numerous human rights groups.

    The activist has served several prison sentences since setting up the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002.

  5. Congo debate

    That’s the debate on proposed Cambodian trade union laws finished.

    Next up, MEPs are debating the cases of Yves Makwambala and Fred Bauma – two pro-democracy activists arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March.

    Numerous human rights groups and national associations have called for their release. 

  6. Why are MEPs discussing Cambodia?

    The EU is Cambodia’s largest development aid donor, with an allocation of €410m between 2014-2020.

    Much of this money goes to activities carried out by Cambodian NGOs, which the resolution  says will be adversely affected by the new law. 

    The conditions attached to EU development grants are a matter of division among MEPs, and are often brought up during the Thursday human rights debates. 

    Most see the use of aid money as a tool to promote better human rights standards around the world as a positive influence. 

    However, others point out that the promotion of rights can often lead to EU interference in the political affairs of non-European nation states. 

  7. Harming development

    Catalan nationalist Ernest Maragall begins the debate by telling MEPs that the new law in Cambodia "does not seem to respect at all the rights of representation". 

    He adds that the law on NGOs is likely to harm development in the country. 

    Ernest Maragall
  8. Good afternoon

    Welcome back to BBC coverage of this final afternoon session of today’s sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    As is traditional during a Thursday sitting, MEPs will this afternoon be debating four resolutions on topical human rights cases that will shortly be put to the vote.

    The first case to be debated is that of a news law being drafted in Cambodia on NGOs and trade unions.

    Campaign groups have said the new laws will restrict NGOs’ activity and allow the government greater power to break up unions in contravention of international labour standards.

    There has also been criticism of the way the laws have been drafted, with campaigners decrying a lack of public consultation and a secretive approach from ministers.

  9. Votes finished

    That's the votes finished - now MEPs will have the chance to make speeches to explain how they voted during the voting sessions today and yesterday. 

    Notably, MEPs will get to explain how they voted during yesterday's vote on a resolution on the current state of talks for TTIP, the trade deal the EU is negotiating with the United States.

  10. Key votes won

    Conservative MEP tweets:

  11. Parliament approves Srebrenica resolution

    Parliament votes to approve a resolution to "commemorate and honour all the victims of the Srebrenica genocide".

    Alternative resolutions tabled by some nationalist and left-wing MEPs to reject the "genocide" term, instead describing the killings as "atrocities", are rejected. 

    A UN tribunal at The Hague has already convicted numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings, but the term is rejected by Serbia as divisive.    

    It comes only a day after Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre using the same term. 

    A formal recognition by the UN could compel individual states to pursue prosecutions.    

    Graves
    Image caption: Many of the dead are remembered in the memorial cemetery of Potocari, outside Srebrenica
  12. Call for EU law to stay the same on "panorama" rights

    MEPs reject an amendment to "re-introduce" a clause into the resolution calling for the freedom of panorama to be rolled out EU-wide during upcoming reforms to copyright law.

    However, they delete a previous amendment calling for the freedom to be restricted.

    It all means the resolution will now effectively call for EU law on this matter to stay the same - with the matter decided by member states. 

    It remains to be seen how closely the Commission will listen to the resolution - it is due to announce planned copyright reforms later this year. 

  13. 'Save freedom of panorama'

    Copyright resolution author tweets:

  14. Yemen aid

    MEPs also give their backing to a resolution calling for a “humanitarian pause” to allow humanitarian assistance to reach people in war-torn Yemen “as a matter of urgency”.

  15. Legislative programme

    MEPs endorse a request not to vote this month on their resolution setting out their views on the Commission's legislative programme for next year, due to a claimed lack of agreement among the political groups on key amendments. 

    This means the vote on the resolution will now take place at the next plenary in September. 

  16. CMU deal backed

    MEPs also approve a resolution expressing support for the Commission’s plans to create a so-called capital markets union (CMU) across the EU.

    The plan aims to increase the amount of non-bank lending available to businesses, by making it easier for companies to raise money on stock and bond markets. 

  17. 'Circular economy' resolution

    MEPs approve a resolution calling on the Commission to take greater steps to improve recycling levels with new EU laws, in the aim of creating a “circular economy” in Europe that is less wasteful.

  18. Voting about to begin

    That’s the morning’s debates finished – MEPs are now taking their seats for today’s voting session.

  19. Democracy funding

    Polish centre-right MEP Andrzej Grzyb’s resolution calls on member states to continue, or increase, their funding to the European Endowment for Democracy (EDD).

    The EDD is a Brussel-based EU funding agency that provides grants to pro-democracy groups and activists in the bloc’s near-neighbours, such as ex-Soviet states and countries in North Africa. 

    Andrzej Grzyb
  20. Debate over

    That’s the debate on copyright reform finished – MEPs will be voting on Ms Reda’s resolution shortly.

    Next up, there will be short presentations of two resolutions also due to be put to the vote during this morning’s voting session.

  21. New laws that 'make sense'

    Estonian Liberal Kaja Kallas questions the supposed ideological divide in the debate, telling MEPs that the issue of copyright should not be seen as a simplistic battle between the rights of consumers on the one hand and creators on the other. 

    She adds that in the digital age, there is often not a "clear division" between the two groups, with authors being users and users being authors. 

    She says the Commission needs to recognise this in its review and come up with new laws that  "actually make sense today in the internet age". 

    Kaja Kallas
  22. Ashes abroad

    Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton has a topical plea for copyright reforms - noting that many of his constituents are currently blocked, due to "geoblocking" laws, from watching the Ashes when abroad in the EU, even if they have paid for pay-TV subscriptions. 

    He says an overhaul in the laws should not undermine intellectual property rights but should nevertheless ensure the "portability" of "legally-bought content". 

    Daniel Dalton
  23. Who's writing to the Commission about copyright?

    European Parliament research office tweets:

  24. Call to recognise cultural differences

    Labour MEP Mary Honeyball says that, whilst pan-EU copyright laws might remain a long-term aspiration, MEPs need to recognise that legislation “simply has to take account" of different cultural differences that exist at the moment.

    Mary Honeyball
  25. Commitment to panorama freedom

    Commissioner Oettinger says the EU executive is committed to updating copyright law, and pledges to "take note" of Parliament's resolution as they consider new legislation.

    He adds that creating a digital market "without borders" is a top economic priority for Europe, but that new laws must also "protect the creative economy of Europe" by allowing artists the economic protection required to "have a future".

    He notes that "finding the right balance" will have particular importance for the European cinema industry, to ensure that the internet in the future does not simply become "Hollywood, Bollywood,Google and Amazon".

    He notes, however, that finding this balance "will not be easy". 

    On the controversial freedom of panorama issue, he seeks to reassure MEPs that the Commission is not planning new laws to limit panorama freedoms. 

    "A free Europe should also involve the freedom to take photos of public buildings," he adds. 

    "There is no plan in that area."

  26. 'Freedom of panorama' controversy

    What's the issue?

    One of the issues that has dominated the debate about reforming EU copyright rules has been the right to commercially use photographs of public buildings and landmarks.

    At the moment, this “freedom of panorama” is allowed in some EU countries but not all.

    What does today's resolution say?

    Julia Reda’s resolution originally called for this right to be extended to all EU countries during the upcoming reforms to copyright law.

    She had said existing laws that prohibit it - for example, a French law that prohibits distributing pictures of the Eiffel tower at night - amount to "privatisation of the skyline". 

    But...

    An amendment tabled by Liberal MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, calling for copyright holders to have to authorise use of the photos, was unexpectedly endorsed by the legal affairs committee.

    After something of a public outcry, an agreement has reportedly been reached to vote to delete the amendment from the resolution at plenary today.

    This would effectively call for the “panorama” laws to be left as they are at the moment – varying across the EU member states.

    However, in a final twist to the plot, another liberal MEP Marietje Schaake has tabled an amendment urging a roll-out of the freedom EU-wide (as the original draft had recommended).

    Watch out for it at the vote – it’s amendment number 3. 

    Camera
    Image caption: The "freedom of panorama" has generated a lot of controversy across the media in Europe - even though no new EU laws have been proposed yet on the matter
  27. Background on reforms

    The Commission has said that trade in digital services across the EU is being held back by the current outdated rules on copyright.

    Many of the current legal provisions are over a decade old and do not take account of the recent growth in popular film sites such as Netflix, for example.

    The call for reform has opened a highly charged political battle, with publishers and internet giants watching closely for what the Commission comes up with.

    Generally speaking, the left-leaning groups in the Parliament have been more supportive of reforms to benefit users and consumers, meaning less restrictive copyright laws.

    On the other hand, protecting artists’ rights and intellectual property in the new rules has been a priority for the right-leaning groups, including the Conservatives and EPP.

  28. Resolution 'rapporteur' speaks

    Julia Reda outlines her resolution to the chamber, telling MEPs that current EU copyright law is "unfit for digital age".

    She adds that an overhaul of EU legislation is required because having  "28 copyright laws" is too complicated for an integrated market - but adds that new EU law needs to be "understandable" to a new generation of people who "embrace the internet as an integral part of their reality". 

    She says that when bringing forward new laws, she hopes the Commission will be  "more bold in demanding common rules for everybody".

    She adds that the right to take photos of public buildings - something which has become known as the "freedom of panorama" - should be "royalty-free" - more on that in a bit. 

    Julia Reda
  29. Copyright debate begins

    That’s the debate on mechanisms for setting safe levels of radioactivity in food finished. MEPs will vote on their “first reading” position on the text at lunchtime.

    Next up, MEPs are going to be debating planned reforms to EU copyright law, which the Commission has pledged to announce later this year as part of efforts to improve the EU’s digital economy.

    The Commission has said the current rules, which date back to 2001, need to be updated and harmonised across the EU to strengthen digital services in the single market.

    At lunchtime, MEPs will vote on a non-binding resolution prepared by German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda to state their current position on what future reforms should be made. 

  30. Radioactivity debate begins

    That's the speeches on the Srebrenica massacre finished. 

    Next up, MEPs are debating an EU regulation proposed last year governing how the Commission would set safe levels of radioactivity found in food after a radiological accident such as at a nuclear power plant.

    The draft law would allow the Commission, in the event of an accident, to pass what are called “implementing acts” to set safe levels.

    It would be able to do this without consent from the European Parliament – to make the process as quick as possible – but MEPs have asked for a say on further changes to the levels thereafter.

    MEPs will adopt their “first reading” position on the law at lunchtime, after which negotiations on the text can begin with member states. 

  31. Commemorating Srebrenica

    Slovakian MEP and former foreign minister tweets:

  32. Parliament's resolution

    At lunchtime, MEPs will vote on a joint resolution agreed between the main political groups to "commemorate and honour all the victims of the Srebrenica genocide". 

    It also "rejects any denial, relativisation or misinterpretation of the genocide". 

    The use of the term is still disputed by some - today's debate comes only a day after Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre using the same term. 

    A UN tribunal at The Hague has already convicted numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings, but a formal recognition by the UN could compel individual states to pursue prosecutions.  

    Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said adopting it "would be counter-productive, would lead to greater tension in the region".  

    Serbia, which disputes the term, had asked ally Russia to block the resolution, warning it would be divisive.  

    Croatian Christian democrat Andrej Plenkovic tells MEPs that the developments make their resolution today "even more important". 

    Graves
  33. What happened in Srebrenica?

    Srebrenica became the site of the worst massacre in Europe in July 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces took control of the town from a lightly-armed Dutch UN peacekeeping force.

    In the space of five days, soldiers separated Muslim families and killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in fields, schools and warehouses.

    Nearly 90% of the victims have been identified and buried in a special memorial centre in Srebrenica - but work to identify victims is still continuing. 

    The EU designated July 11 as Srebrenica Memorial Day in 2009. 

    Identifying victims
    Image caption: DNA analysis has been used to identify victims among the 8,000 that were killed during the massacre
  34. Commissioner calls for 'reconciliation'

    Commissioner Oettinger says that the massacre "left wounds in the Balkans, but also the whole of Europe."

    He tells MEPs that they have the "moral obligation" not to forget the events at Srebrenica and calls on the Balkan states to not just remember the victims but to move towards a  "genuine reconciliation".  

    MEPs of course held a minute's silence at the beginning of this week's sitting, on Monday, to mark the 20th anniversary. 

    Commissioner Oettinger
  35. Good Morning

    Welcome to BBC coverage of this fourth and final day of the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. 

    The first item on today’s agenda is a round of speeches from Commissioner Gunter Oettinger and MEPs on behalf of the political groups to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

    About 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed in Srebrenica over three days by Bosnian Serb soldiers, the worst atrocity on European soil since the Holocaust.

    The killings took place a few months before the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, when 20,000 refugees fled to Srebrenica to escape Serb forces.

    Numerous people have been convicted of genocide in relation to the massacre by the international tribunal at The Hague.

    Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, accused of masterminding the killings, is currently being tried for genocide in the Hague.