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Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    That's the debate on the accession report for Albania finished.

    Finally this evening, MEPs will debate the EU’s report on Montenegro and a motion on defending academic freedom abroad.

    However, that’s where we leave our coverage for this evening – the next European Parliament plenary sitting takes place in Strasbourg next month.

  2. MEP: EU states should open Albania talks next year

    Debate on Albania report

    European Parliament


    Knut Fleckenstein

    German social democrat Knut Fleckenstein, who drafted the report for the foreign affairs committee, says they support the EU Commission's calls for accession talks to begin.

    He says the committee hopes EU states will stick by their ambition to open talks in June next year.

    To do otherwise would be "detrimental to the stability of the region", he says.

    He says they expect the Albanian government to make the most of the time before then to make progress in priority areas.

  3. MEPs debate report on Albania

    That’s the report on Macedonia finished. The penultimate accession report discussed tonight is on Albania, which has been an official candidate since 2014.

    Earlier this year EU countries decided once again not to begin accession talks with the country, although they “set a path” to doing so in June next year.

    Reports have indicated a majority of states wanted to start talks now but France, the Netherlands, and Denmark were opposed.

  4. 'Substantial progress' on reforms - Austrian minister

    Debate on Macedonia report

    European Parliament


    Karoline Edtstadler

    Representing Austria's EU presidency, Austrian Interior Ministry State Secretary Karoline Edtstadler says Macedonia has made "substantial progress" on reform priorities.

    Steps have been taken to restore a "culture of compromise" in the country, she says.

    The name agreement with Greece is a "major step" and has demonstrated a desire to improve relations with neighbouring countries, she adds.

    She adds that the EU will be closely following progress towards reforming the intelligence services and the country's civil service.

  5. What’s in a name?

    When Macedonia declared independence during the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece objected to its new neighbour's name.

    Present-day Macedonia and northern Greece were part of a Roman province called Macedonia – both claim the heritage of Alexander the Great two centuries earlier.

    Greece's objections forced the UN – and EU bodies – to refer to the new country as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

    Athens also vetoed Macedonia's attempt to join Nato in 2008 - and blocked its EU membership ambitions.

  6. Next up...the report on Macedonia

    An opposition march in Skopje
    Image caption: The name change has faced opposition in Macedonia

    MEPs are now debating the annual report on the EU membership prospects of Macedonia, which has been an official candidate country since 2005.

    EU states have not opened accession talks with the country, in spite of recommendations to do so from the European Commission.

    Greece has long blocked the country’s EU membership bid due to a dispute over its name.

    In their report, MEPs welcome an agreement struck in June – under which Greece agreed to drop its objections if the country changed its name to North Macedonia.

    Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has vowed to push ahead with the plan, despite a referendum to approve it being declared invalid due to low turnout.

  7. Commissioner criticises tariffs on Serbia

    Debate on Kosovo report

    European Parliament


    Johannes Hahn

    The Commissioner for EU enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, says the committee's report is "balanced", and in line with the Commission's findings in April.

    He tells MEPs the overall pace of political reforms in Kosovo is "too slow".

    He also says Kosovo's recent decision to impose additional tariffs on imports from Serbia is "doing real harm" and violates its association agreement with the EU.

    Kosovo added the tariffs last week after blaming Serbia for its latest failed bid to join Interpol, the international police co-operation body.

  8. MEP: Progress 'not as much as desired'

    Debate on Kosovo report

    European Parliament


    Igor Soltes

    Slovenian Green MEP Igor Soltes, who draft the foreign affairs committee's report, says progress from Kosovo is "not as significant as desired".

    Kosovo must make more effort to guarantee the independence of judges and its monitoring of high-level corruption, he adds.

    Kosovo's "dialogue" with Serbia must be improved, he says.

  9. MEPs debate report on Kosovo

    That’s the debate on Serbia finished. Next up is the report on Kosovo, which is not an official EU candidate and has not started accession talks.

    Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is not recognised by Serbia or five current EU member states.

    However the bloc has a ‘stabilisation and association’ agreement with Kosovo, which came into force in April 2016.

    The EU has said the country has made progress on the economic front, but reforms to the judiciary, on tackling corruption and organised crime are at an “early stage”.

  10. MEPs debate report on Serbia's EU application

    Next up MEPs are going to be debating a series of annual reports from the foreign affairs committee about countries with long-term plans to join the EU.

    The draft reports will be voted on tomorrow. The first is about Serbia, which started formal accession talks with the bloc in 2014.

    The EU has said the country has made progress towards improving its economy, but more progress is required on tackling corruption and improving judicial independence.

    The EU also says Serbia must normalise its ties with Kosovo in a legally binding agreement.

    Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo, which declared independence from it in 2008. The status of the Serb-majority north of Kosovo also remains unresolved.

  11. Commissioner: WTO 'under huge pressure'

    Debate on the World Trade Organisation

    European Parliament


    Cecilia Malmstrom

    EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says the WTO is "under huge pressure" and is facing "many threats", with the dispute over the Appellate Body the most urgent.

    The need to reform the organisation has not been apparent until recently but attitudes are now changing, she says.

    It is important for the EU to "modernise and preserve" the WTO, she adds.

    The WTO is "not perfect", but its collapse would be bad for Europe, she tells MEPs.

  12. WTO 'in desperate need of reform'

    Debate on the World Trade Organisation

    European Parliament


    Bernd Lange

    German social democrat Bernd Lange, who chairs the international trade committee, says a number of countries are trying to "get round" multinational trading rules.

    He says the United States is trying to prevent the WTO from functioning, and says there is a need to make sure new judges can be nominated.

    However he adds that the WTO is in "desperate need of reform".

  13. MEPs debate future of world trading body

    Containers are loaded onto a ship at the port of Rotterdam

    Next up MEPs are debating a report from the international trade committee about the future of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

    The report says an ongoing dispute over the organisation’s appeals body could lead to the “collapse” of the system by which trade disputes between members are managed.

    The US has been blocking new appointments to the WTO Appellate Body in an argument over its role, leaving it with the bare minimum needed to function.

    The draft report, which will be voted on tomorrow, calls on the US to resolve the situation to allow seats on the body to be “filled expeditiously”.

    Yesterday the EU and 11 other WTO members tabled a proposal to revise the body’s rules, in a bid to end the current deadlock.

  14. MEPs debate EU product standards review

    Toys at a distribution centre in France

    That’s the debate on the EU's plans to go carbon neutral by 2050 finished.

    Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has now joined MEPs for a debate on EU-wide product standards, which aim to help firms trade throughout the single market.

    The European Commission has been reviewing the effectiveness of EU-wide standards for products like chemicals, toys, cosmetics and packaging.

    Last week it outlined a plan to publish product standards more quickly in the EU’s statute book.

  15. Emission reductions 'necessary and possible'

    Debate on EU plans for climate neutrality

    European Parliament


    Sean Kelly

    Irish Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly says reducing emissions will be "a real challenge", but is "necessary and possible".

    He adds however that it must be done in a way that is "inclusive and fair".

  16. Green MEP criticises timescale for national climate plans

    Debate on EU plans for climate neutrality

    European Parliament


    Bas Eickhout

    Dutch Green Bas Eickhout says the plan to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 is "beautiful".

    However he says the European Commission is "avoiding the key question" of what the bloc needs to do to reach targets set for 2030.

    He adds that in its press release today, the Commission says EU countries should adopt their national mid-century strategies to implement the Paris deal by 2020.

    He says the timescale shows climate action is "not a priority" for the Commission, "despite the nice words".

  17. Belgian MEPs: Public support needed

    Debate on EU plans for climate neutrality

    European Parliament


    Ivo Belet

    Belgian Christian Democrat Ivo Belet says making the transition to a carbon neutrality will be "much more difficult if people feel their job is on the line".

    His compatriot Kathleen van Brempt, a social democrat, takes a similar line - arguing the EU will need to make sure it is "taking everyone on board".

    However she says the bloc has "no alternative" but to push for carbon neutrality, although she notes there are "different pathways to get there".

  18. Is everyone in Europe happy with the new strategy?

    Matt McGrath

    Environment correspondent

    Some countries such as Germany are struggling with their current commitments and are worried that further cuts would threaten their industries.

    Others such as Poland are still reliant on coal and would object to even more stringent restrictions on the use of fossil fuels.

    Some countries though are keen to press ahead - a group of ten, including Denmark, Sweden and Spain have written a letter to the EU asking for a "clear direction" towards net-zero emissions.

    Read more.

  19. EU Commissioner: Carbon neutrality 'is possible'

    Debate on EU plans for climate neutrality

    European Parliament


    Miguel Arias Canete

    Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete says the European Commission's plan to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 is a "socially fair transition".

    The EU has a duty to show carbon neutrality is "possible, and opens up many opportunities", he says.

    "If we succeed, others will follow", he adds.

    He says improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy, and cleaner forms of transport will all have to play a part in the plan.

  20. What’s in the EU’s plan?

    Wind farm

    The EU has set out eight scenarios for member states to cut warming gases - two of these strategies would see Europe become climate neutral.

    The EU says that this can be done with existing technologies such as solar and wind energy which would have to be ramped up to provide 80% of electricity.

    Energy efficiency measures such as home insulation would also need to be boosted to reduce energy consumption by half by the middle of the century.

    The European Commission says achieving climate neutrality will require up to an additional €290bn a year in investment compared to levels now.