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Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye & Coming up tomorrow

    That's the debate on the European Investment Bank finished.

    Next tonight MEPs will debate the “shrinking space” for charities and NGOs around the world and EU support for women’s rights groups.

    However that’s where we leave our coverage for today – MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 GMT, when they will first debate the co-ordination of daylight saving times in the EU.

    They will also debate this month’s crop of three human rights debates.

  2. Italian MEP criticises EIB lending in Turkey

    Debate on European Investment Bank

    European Parliament


    Marco Zanni

    Ex-Five Star MEP Marco Zanni, who sits in the anti-EU ENF group, criticises the "gigantic amount" of European Investment Bank money lent in Turkey.

    He says €30bn in loans have been offered since 2002, which he says is more than some current EU states have received.

    Turkey doesn't comply with rights or transparency standards, he says.

  3. Lending distribution criticised by MEPs

    Debate on European Investment Bank

    European Parliament


    Polish MEP Stanisław Ozog says greater EU investment has been more worthwhile for economic growth than "printing money" in central banks.

    He points out there are still big geographical differences in access to EIB funds - and calls for "technical assistance" to help firms bidding for money in new member states.

    Bulgarian liberal Nedzhmi Ali makes a similar point, telling MEPs that in 2016, 54% of EIB funding went to the five richest EU countries.

  4. Debate on bank report begins

    EIB President Werner Hoyer will stay with MEPs to debate the bank’s annual report for 2016.

    Tomorrow they will vote on a motion drafted by the budgets committee which calls for greater transparency and accountability in lending activities.

  5. UKIP MEP calls investment plan 'idiotic'

    Debate on European Investment Bank

    European Parliament


    Finnish Green MEP Heidi Hautala says the money should go towards "good sound development policy".

    UKIP's David Coburn says countries in the third world need "trade deals, not handouts" - and describes the EU's flagship investment plan as "idiotic".

    Romanian social democrat Doru-Claudian Frunzulica intervenes to ask Mr Coburn to apologise for his choice of words to describe the plan, calling it inappropriate.

    In reply Mr Coburn says he could amend his description to "economically illiterate" instead.

  6. Bank chief: Changes will allow us to take greater risks

    Debate on European Investment Bank

    European Parliament


    Werner Hoyer

    Werner Hoyer tells MEPs that EIB lending can deliver a "real impact on the ground" for a "minimal cost" to the EU budget.

    The changes to the mandate for lending outside the EU will allow the bank to "better address" the EU's political priorities, including stemming migration, he says.

    This will include allowing the body to take greater risks with its lending to the private sector, he adds.

  7. Debate on external lending of EU investment bank

    Euro note handover

    Next up MEPs have been joined by European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer to debate proposed changes to the Bank’s external lending mandate.

    The mandate covers EIB lending outside the EU. The EU Commission wants to change this to allow the bank to lend more to projects aiming to reduce migration.

    Tomorrow MEPs will decide whether to approve legislation which would increase the EU’s guarantee covering risks on loans and guarantees to non-EU countries for projects there.

    This would involve making a cash injection from the EU budget of €115m for the external lending period covering 2018-2020.

  8. MEPs debate controversial changes to judicial law in Romania

    Protests in Romania
    Image caption: The proposed changes have prompted protests in Romania

    MEPs have been joined by Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova to debate a series of proposed changes to the judicial system in Romania.

    The Romanian government wants to overhaul legislation on prosecutors, the organisation of the judiciary and the organisation of the country’s Superior Council of Magistracy.

    Opponents say the changes could undermine Romania’s anti-corruption authority.

    The EU Commission warned the country last month against “backtracking" from commitments previously made to tackle corruption.

  9. Governments 'have raised concerns' on ideas

    Debate on European electoral law

    European Parliament


    Monika Panayotova

    Monika Panayotova, the deputy minister for Bulgaria's EU presidency, says informal contact has been taking place between MEPs and national ministers on the issue.

    Parliament's lead negotiators were briefed on the "general state of play" in November last year, she says.

    EU governments, she says, are supportive of the "general aim" of boosting turnout but have "raised some concerns" about the effect of Parliament's suggestions on constitutional traditions.

    She tries to assure MEPs that the issue is "high" on the agenda for governments to resolve ahead of the elections next year.

  10. Debate on European electoral law begins

    Next up MEPs are debating when member states will officially respond to suggested changes to the law on how MEPs are elected.

    The European Parliament made a number of recommendations in late 2015 but national governments are yet to agree a position.

    The changes proposed would allow EU citizens living elsewhere the right to vote and possibly introducing electronic and postal voting.

    MEPs on the constitutional affairs committee say any changes will need to be agreed by this spring if they are to apply for the elections due next year.

  11. Conservative MEP urges focus on 'grassroots' schemes

    Debate on economic inequality

    European Parliament


    Syed Kammall

    Conservative MEP Syed Kamall, a co-leader of the ECR group, says that the poor have been failed by both left and right in recent years.

    The left, he says, has adopted an approach which is too "top-down", whilst the right has forgotten that the welfare state was created because private provision was not enough.

    Instead, he calls for a greater focus on "grassroots" anti-poverty projects in poor areas.

    The only non-white leader of a parliamentary group, he also says the EU needs to "get its house in order" when it comes to racial diversity to have credibility on the issue of equality.

  12. Commissioner insists inequality a 'priority'

    Debate on economic inequality

    European Parliament


    Marianne Thyssen

    Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says actions to reduce economic inequality is a "priority" for the European Commission.

    She gives an overview of various EU policies which she says have helped in this area, including last year's strategy on skills and the investment plan launched in 2014.

    She also says a revamped version of the European semester scheme will include a "social scoreboard" for each member state.

    The "semester" is the name for the annual programme through which the EU Commission reviews national debt and deficit levels.

  13. German MEP calls for EU measures on inequality

    Debate on economic inequality

    European Parliament


    German social democrat Udo Bullman says that 120m people in the EU are poor, and inequality threatens to "tear our societies apart".

    Policy efforts in this area are "insufficient", he says.

    He calls for an EU "child guarantee" on access to education and healthcare, and an EU-wide index to recommend "appropriate" minimum wages for each country.

    Udo Bullman
  14. Welcome back

    Hello and welcome back to coverage of this European Parliament plenary sitting in Strasbourg.

    First up this afternoon is a topical debate on economic and social inequality in the EU.

  15. Votes end

    That’s today’s voting session finished.

    There will be now be a break for lunch. The sitting gets underway again at 14.00 GMT.

  16. MEPs allow countries to be added to terror financing blacklist

    Voting session

    By a narrow margin, MEPs have voted to allow Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago to be added to a blacklist of states considered at high risk of money laundering and terrorism financing.

    The proposal had been made by the European Commission, which said the countries had strategic deficiencies in their regimes to tackle the problems.

    A proposal to veto the Commission’s proposal attracted 357 votes, falling 19 votes short of the required threshold.

  17. Lead-candidate convention backed at vote

    Voting session

    They also approve the other report they debated this morning on the Parliament’s operating agreement with the European Commission.

    As part of their suggested changes, they reaffirm their commitment to the ‘Spitzenkandidat’ process for deciding the president of the EU Commission.

    Under the convention, the job is awarded to the candidate selected by the political group which wins the most seats in the European Parliament.