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Summary

  1. MEPs debate advisory resolution on EU-UK relations after Brexit
  2. The document will be put to a vote on Wednesday
  3. MEPs debate ideas for the EU's next long-term budget
  4. EU commissioner calls for political solution to Syria conflict

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Good evening & coming up tomorrow...

    Federica Mogherini will stay with MEPs now to debate an upcoming ministerial meeting between the EU and Cuba due before the summer.

    Later this evening, MEPs will also debate relations with countries in Central Asia and the latest European Commission health check on the national budgets of EU states.

    However, that’s where we leave our coverage for this evening.

    MEPs are back tomorrow from 07.30 GMT, when they will first debate the EU’s reaction to threats of US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

    They will also hear a speech from Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa from 09.00 GMT.

  2. Tory MEP criticises Tillerson dismissal

    Debate on Syrian war

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Spanish socialist Elena Valenciano says Turkey is "playing a double game" in Syria and the EU should seek to apply "more pressure" on the country.

    Conservative MEP Charles Tannock says there is the need for a "durable" ceasefire, calling for Geneva peace talks to be put "back on the table".

    He also criticises the dismissal of Rex Tillerson today, whom he calls "one of the most sensible voices" in Donald Trump's administration.

    Charles Tannock
  3. Russia 'mocking international community' - MEP

    Debate on Syrian war

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Romanian social democrat Victor Bostinaru says Syrian government bombing of hospitals is being allowed to continue "in full impunity".

    Syria's ally Russia is "mocking the international community", he says, but he backs calls to continue searching for a solution at the United Nations.

    Italian MEP Fabio Massimo says the ruthlessness of the protagonists in Syria has shown diplomatic efforts to be "useless and irrelevant".

  4. Mogherini: EU calls for full implementation of ceasefire

    Debate on Syrian war

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Federica Mogherini

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says Syria is seeing a "dramatic re-escalation" in military activities in both Afrin and the Eastern Ghouta.

    The EU's foreign ministers have been "united" in calling for the "full implementation" of a 30-day ceasefire agreed by the UN's Security Council, she says.

    The only "rational and moral thing to do" is to continue to push for a permanent peace settlement through the United Nations, she adds.

    Reconstruction of the country can only begin following a "credible and inclusive" peace deal, she says.

  5. MEPs to hear statement on Syria

    Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini makes a short speech outlining progress towards a UN pact on migration and the prospects for peace between North and South Korea.

    She stays in the hemicycle as MEPs begin a debate on the situation in Syria.

    It comes after the UN Security Council gathered last week to discuss the failure of a ceasefire it had demanded in the Eastern Ghouta region.

    More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 4,000 wounded since the government stepped up its offensive on the Eastern Ghouta last month.

    The government's advances have displaced thousands of families, triggering what the opposition-run council in the major town of Douma called a "catastrophic" humanitarian situation.

  6. MEPs debate 2019 spending by EU Commission

    MEPs are now considering a similar matter – next year’s budget for the European Commission.

    They will set out their position on the spending at a vote tomorrow.

  7. Taxed to the brim?

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Angelo Ciocca

    Italian MEP Angelo Ciocca from the Eurosceptic Lega party has come up with a novel way of demonstrating the tax burden on Italian families.

    He takes a pitcher which is nearly full of water and fills it to the brim with water from a bottle marked with the EU's flag.

    The top-up water represents "more European taxes" being added to the existing burden, he says.

    Instead, he calls for a "flat tax" of 15%.

  8. UKIP: MEPs just want to spend, spend, spend

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge accuses his colleagues of following "anti-logic", rejecting sound economic principles.

    The European Parliament's attitude to EU financing can be summed up as "spend, spend and spend again", by imposing taxation "until the pips squeak".

    However, he predicts that "reality" will soon hit the assembly and MEPs will "run out of other people's money".

  9. Italian MEP: EU has 'no legitimacy' for new taxes

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Former Five Star MEP Marco Zanni, who now sits as an independent, says there should be no new EU taxes in future long-term budgets.

    "Europe has no legitimacy to levy taxes", he says.

    Spanish Socialist MEP Eider Gardiazabal Rubial says payments to farmers and cohesion spending should not be cut.

    She proposes a new system of sanctions for members states that "don't respect the rules".

    Eider Gardiazabal Rubial
  10. Budgets committee chairman backs spending increase

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Jean Arthuis

    French Liberal Jean Arthuis, who chairs the European Parliament's budgets committee, also gives his backing to the proposed increase in the size of the next long-term budget.

    An increase to 1.3% of gross national income should not be "such a shock", he says.

    He also calls for some national spending to be transferred to the EU level.

  11. Proposed budget increase 'nothing special - MEP

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    German Green MEP Helga Trupel calls for new EU taxes on digital firms and on plastics to raise revenue for future budgets.

    Portuguese social democrat Jose Manuel Fernandes says the next EU budget will need to be sufficient to meet the bloc's needs in future years.

    The suggestion in one of the reports that the total spending limit should rise from 1% to 1.3% of total gross national income is "realistic" and "nothing special", he adds.

    Jose Manuel Fernandes
  12. Commission mulling 'two or three' new EU income powers

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Gunther Oettinger

    Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger says the debate about what revenue-raising powers the EU should have "goes back to the 1950s".

    He notes that over the years, national contributions have gone up from around 10% of the common budget to around 70% today.

    It is "high time" for the EU to diversify its income, he says, and would like it to lead to a reduction in national contributions.

    The European Commission will make "two or three" proposals for how the EU can raise fresh income when it outlines its plans in May, he adds.

  13. French MEP: Current seven-year budget 'too small'

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Centre-right Polish MEP Jan Olbrycht, a co-author of the first report, says the EU budget will enter a "new landscape" after Brexit.

    His co-author, French Socialist Isabelle Thomas, says the current long-term budget is "too small".

    Spending on infrastructure "cohesion" spending, the Erasmus student programme and loans for small businesses should be retained, she says.

    She says that the European Parliament should not sign off on the next budget without further progress on increasing the EU's own powers to raise revenue.

    Isabelle Thomas
  14. What do MEPs want?

    Debate on long-term EU budget

    Euro notes

    The first report recommends the new budget should include greater flexibility on spending and a mandatory mid-term review.

    It calls for current spending levels on agriculture and fisheries to be maintained, and more money for research and youth employment schemes.

    The overall cap on the size of the next MFF should be raised from 1% to 1.3% of the EU’s gross national income, it says.

    The second says the EU should “progressively” acquire more of its own revenue-raising powers to reduce the dependence on national contributions.

    This could include a new tax on digital firms or money from the proposed tax on financial transactions, it says.

  15. Good afternoon

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

    The sitting will be getting back under way shortly, when MEPs will be debating two reports from the budget committee about the future of the EU’s long-term budget.

    The current budget – known as the multiannual financial framework (MFF) – is due to run out at the end of 2019. The EU will also have to plug an estimated €12-13bn hole in its budget left by Brexit.

    The European Commission is due to present its plan in May. The final deal will need to be agreed by all EU states, and be ratified by the European Parliament.

  16. Voting session ends

    That’s the voting session finished, and MEPs will now have the usual opportunity to make short speeches explaining how they voted.

    We’ll be back at 14.00 GMT when they will be debating ideas for the future of the EU’s long-term budget after 2020.

  17. MEPs approve report on impact of trade deals on women

    Voting session

    They also pass the report they debated yesterday on the impact of trade agreements the EU strikes with countries around the world on the rights of women.

    The report says provisions in trade deals can affect women “disproportionately”.

    Agreements can lead to employment shifts in export-related sectors such as clothes manufacturing where women “often form the majority of the work force”, it says.

    The report recommends that new trade agreements should include international standards on gender equality. It is not binding on the European Commission or EU states.

  18. Revision of lorry driver training rules approved

    Voting session

    Lorries in a car park

    They also give the green light to a revision of the rules on mandatory training for truck and lorry drivers.

    Reviews have found that under the existing rules, drivers have found it hard to obtain recognition of training done in other EU states.

    There has also been a reported lack of clarity over the use of e-learning courses for training.

    MEPs have reached a deal on an update to the rules which they say will make cross-border recognition easier.

  19. MEPs approve new parcel delivery transparency rules

    Voting session

    Stamp on parcel

    MEPs begin their voting session by giving final approval to a revision of the rules governing the cost of delivering parcels within the EU.

    Under the changes, delivery providers will have to provide national regulatory authorities with information about their prices.

    The prices will be published on a dedicated EU website, with the aim of making it easier for firms to shop around for the best deals.

    The European Commission has argued greater competition brought about by more transparency can lead to lower prices, without the need to introduce a cap.

  20. Commissioner also urges EU response to Salisbury incident

    Debate on EU leaders' summit

    European Parliament

    Strasbourg

    Frans Timmermans

    European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans also calls for the EU to express its "full solidarity" with the UK government over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

    It is of the "utmost importance" that those responsible for the attack see "unequivocal" European solidarity in response, he says.

    He also calls for unity of action from EU leaders over the new US tariffs on steel.

    It is an "illusion" to think that the steel industries of EU countries can be protected by individual states, he adds.