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  1. Hungarian PM joins MEPs for debate on new law threatening CEU university in Budapest
  2. Frans Timmermans announces EU legal action against Hungary over the measure
  3. MEPs discuss plans to change EU employment rules
  4. Debate follows on constitutional referendum in EU applicant Turkey
  5. Evening sees debates on whether to sign off spending by EU bodies

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. MEPs debate Turkey referendum result

    President Erdogan

    MEPs have now been joined by the Commissioner responsible for EU enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, to discuss the results of the constitutional referendum in Turkey earlier this month.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won the vote to hand himself new powers.

    The role of president used to be a largely ceremonial position but Erdogan supporters have argued a more executive presidency will modernise the country.

    Opposition parties and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have complained about voting irregularities ahead of the poll.

    The EU Commission has urged President Erdogan to seek the “broadest possible” consensus on how to implement the results of the vote. 

  2. MEP: Eastern and western Europe should be better 'aligned'

    Debate on new EU employment rules

    European Parliament


    Tom Vandenkendelaere

    Belgian centre-right MEP Tom Vandenkendelaere says there should be greater "alignment" between the social rights of western and eastern European states. 

    The EU's proposals are "very bold", he adds.

    Another MEP from the same group, Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, says she supports the Commission's aspirations but social systems are better regulated at a national level. 

  3. What's a 'social triple A'?

    Debate on new EU employment rules

    Scrabble tiles

    A number of MEPs have mentioned a “social triple A” scheme for the EU - but what is it?

    Broadly speaking, the idea would be to give the bloc a way to measure socio-economic standards in EU states, alongside traditional economic indicators like GDP. 

    The idea would be similar to the “triple A” system used by credit ratings agencies to measure the creditworthiness of national governments.

    Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said before taking office that he wanted to make the EU a “social triple A” in the social sense – but no definite plans have yet been tabled.

    Originally, an idea that was mooted was to include social criteria – measuring things like inequality and unemployment – in the European Semester, the programme through which the Commission monitors national debt and deficit levels. 

    The Commission has effectively endorsed that idea in its announcement today. 

  4. MEP: EU plans 'are insufficient'

    Debate on new EU employment rules

    European Parliament


    Jutta Steinruck

    Maltese centre-right MEP David Casa gives his backing to the new measures, adding that people in Europe are "expecting us to act". 

    The measures, he adds, will strengthen the EU's "social dimension". 

    However German social democrat Jutta Steinruck questions whether the measures announced today will be enough. 

    The plans are "simply insufficient", she adds.   

  5. German MEP warns against EU action

    Debate on new EU employment rules

    European Parliament


    Ulrike Trebesius

    German MEP Ulrike Trebesius, from the Conservative ECR group, says the new EU rules may end up hindering investment. 

    She adds that the new regulations will affect smaller companies more than larger ones. 

    EU states must take responsibility for their own social security rules, she adds, and the EU should respect this principle. 

  6. Timmermans: New measures will help women

    Debate on new EU employment rules

    European Parliament


    Frans Timmermans

    Frans Timmermans says the mix of new laws and "non-legislative action" will help women to get into and stay in employment. 

    He says proposed changes to the EU's parental leave directive will keep the minimum parental leave at four months - but set a minimum rate of pay that must be at least equivalent to sick pay. 

    "I do not accept that our daughters have to fight the same battles that our grandmothers had to fight," he adds. 

  7. MEPs to debate new EU employment rules

    Construction site in Berlin

    MEPs have now been joined by Euro and Social Dialogue Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis to debate the plans to revise EU employment and social rules.

    Today the Commission has announced plans for a non-binding “proclamation” setting out various employment rights – to eventually be adopted by the Parliament and member states.

    It would initially apply only to eurozone countries but non-euro countries could take part.

    The Commission has also announced plans to increase the legal EU minimum for parental, paternity and carers' leave.

    It also wants to set up an online “scoreboard” to rank the social standards of member states – and incorporate the data into its European Semester budgetary monitoring process.

  8. Orban: EU's migrant quotas 'have failed'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Viktor Orban

    Hungarian PM Viktor Orban makes a closing speech, reassuring MEPs that he is sure the issues raised in the debate about CEU will be "easily resolved". 

    Responding to criticism of Hungary's position on EU migration policies, he says that migrants do not want to come to Hungary but only to "transit" through the country to Germany and Austria. 

    "I think we should be rewarded for this rather than being defamed", he adds. 

    He adds that it is now "evident" that the EU's compulsory migrant quota policy has failed - because even countries not openly opposing it are failing to implement it.

  9. Liberal MEP: Weber 'denying nature' of Hungarian government

    Dutch Liberal MEP tweets:

  10. MEP: EU not a 'pick and choose entity'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Roberta Metsola

    Maltese centre-right MEP Roberta Metsola says the European Union is not a "pick and choose entity".

    EU values, she adds, are "not up for negotiation". 

    Hungarian MEP Peter Niedermuller, from the opposition Democratic Coalition party, accuses Mr Orban of turning Hungary into an "illiberal democracy" based on corruption. 

    He also says his own Fidesz members do not agree with him. 

  11. Central European University – background

    Debate on Central European University

    The main CEU building in Budapest
    • Founded to "resuscitate and revive intellectual freedom" in parts of Europe that had endured the "horrific ideologies" of communism and fascism
    • Occupies a converted building that began as an aristocrat's palace before becoming state-owned offices for a planned socialist economy
    • Has 1,440 students - 335 from Hungary and the rest from 107 other countries
    • Presents itself as a champion of free speech, with links to universities in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan 
  12. Farage calls on Hungary to 'join the Brexit club'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Nigel Farage

    Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he sometimes wonders why Mr Orban, as a "democratically elected leader" keeps returning to the European Parliament to be "attacked by non-entities". 

    He says it is "becoming obvious" that Hungary is "not a nation" for as long as it remains an EU member. 

    He also has a dig at CEU, which he calls a "propaganda machine which masquerades as a university". 

    "Surely it's time," he adds, for Hungarians to be given a referendum on whether they should leave the EU and "join the Brexit club". 

  13. Verhofstadt: Orban has 'dumped democratic values'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Guy Verhofstadt

    Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group, says that Mr Orban was the "Emmanuel Macron of Hungary" when he first met him in 1989. 

    However he says that since then the Hungarian Prime Minister has "dumped" his democratic principles and is now guilty of harassing NGOs and "chasing away" critical media. 

    He accuses the Hungarian government of "paranoia" and seeing "enemies everywhere" - like a "modern day version" of old Communist Hungary. 

    He adds that Hungary should not accept "the money of the European Union" but not its values. 

  14. Polish MEP: CEU has 'ideological profile'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Zdzislaw Krasnodebski

    Polish MEP Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, from the ruling Law and Justice, praises the work of CEU, but says the university of "very clear ideological profile" that it "does not try to hide".

    He says that European universities have become places of "conformity", which "repress" those with diverging views. 

    He adds that it is up to national governments to regulate their own education sectors.

  15. Socialist leader questions Fidesz role in EPP group

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Gianni Pitella

    The leader of the Socialist and Democrat group, Italian MEP Gianni Pitella, says the EU should take the matter "to the wire". 

    He adds that this includes using Article 7 of the EU treaties, which asks national governments to suspend a country's voting rights. 

    He says the stance on Hungary is about defending culture, science and the rights of students. 

    Taking aim at Mr Weber, he asks whether the centre-right EPP group should still be welcoming MEPs from Fidesz. 

  16. EPP chief calls on Orban to 'take on board' EU concerns

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Manfred Weber

    German Christian democrat MEP Manfred Weber, whose centre-right EPP group houses Fidesz's MEPs, says the CEU offers Hungarian students the "advantage" of getting a degree in two countries. 

    "We do not understand why this advantage is being removed from the university," he adds. 

    He says the EU must always defend the freedom of researchers, and he calls on Mr Orban to "take on board" the Commission's concerns about the new law. 

    He adds that the government's questionnaire on EU policies is about "stirring up dissent against Europe". 

    However he says Mr Orban must be given credit for never "shunning debate" - and says he has always listened to EU concerns in the past. 

  17. Hungarian PM calls on MEPs to 'overcome prejudices'

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Viktor Orban

    Prime Minister Orban also defends his government's national consultation on EU measures such as migration - which was criticised by Frans Timmermans in his speech earlier.

    He says the Hungarian government has taken a "clear position" on the measures where it disagrees with the policies of the Commission included in the questionnaire. 

    Supporting a "Europe of strong member states", he asks MEPs to overcome their "prejudices" and listen to "reasoned arguments". 

    "We have always said that we want to respect the rules of the club, and we have always done so."

  18. Orban: New law will increase transparency

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Viktor Orban

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he is glad to be back in Brussels to discuss Hungary, noting he wants to help them "make an informed decision". 

    The assembly's previous motions on Hungary, he says, have not "stood the test of truth". 

    He takes a swipe at George Soros, who he accuses of "destroying the lives of millions of Europeans" through financial speculation, and being an enemy of the euro.

    After an appraisal of Hungary's economy, he says the new university law applies to 28 "foreign universities", and will "end privileges" and increase transparency. 

  19. Background to the new university law

    Debate on Central European University

    CEU main building

    The new law requires universities offering degrees with non-European accreditation, such as CEU, to open campuses outside Hungary.

    CEU President Michael Ignatieff has said such legislation is "punitive and discriminatory".

    CEU does not have a US campus. It offers US and Hungarian-accredited postgraduate degrees, and has 1,440 students - 335 from Hungary and the rest from 107 other countries.

    The new law also requires such institutions to sign up to international treaties to govern their operations.

    CEU says the changes mean it faces having to close to new enrolments in February 2018.

    The government believes that CEU is part of a campaign orchestrated by George Soros to destroy the traditional values of Hungarian society and undermine national sovereignty.

    Prime Minister Orban views Mr Soros as an ideological enemy.

    Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs believes Mr Soros's "open society" is a utopia.

    "His NGOs [non-governmental organisations] behave like governments... they think they have the right to say what's best for the country. But they have no political mandate." 

  20. Timmermans: EU to launch legal action against Hungary

    Debate on Central European University

    European Parliament


    Frans Timmermans

    European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans says the Commission shares the concerns of those who are "worried" about developments in Hungary. 

    He adds that the new university rules are "perceived by many" to be targeted at the Central European University, which he describes as a "pearl in the crown". 

    To applause, he tells MEPs that following today's meeting, the Commission has decided to launch the first stage of infringement proceedings against the country over the measure. 

    He notes that the Hungarian government will now have one month to respond to concerns that that the new law could breach internal market and fundamental rights laws.