The session began with a minute's silence for the 32 people killed and 340 injured by the 22 March bomb attacks in Brussels. Parliament's President Martin Schulz condemned the attacks as a cruel, inhuman and cynical attempt to infect Europeans with fear and hatred.
These attacks made Tuesday 22 March a black day for Belgium and for Europe. Their criminal perpetrators targeted the heart of Europe, in Brussels, a multilingual, cosmopolitan and tolerant city that hosts EU and international bodies and epitomizes the open society that they hate. They targeted innocent people in public spaces - the airport and metro stations - so as to generate fear and hatred across Brussels, Belgium and Europe, said Mr Schulz.
The way to thwart the killers' cynical calculation is to show solidarity against fear, stand together in remembrance of their victims as fellow Europeans and show that we cannot be infected by the assassins' hatred. We must not counter hatred with hatred, or violence with more violence, he urged.
Instead, we must stay calm and combat mistrust, stand up for freedom of all, defend democracy and protect human dignity, he continued.
Mr Schulz conveyed Parliament's deepest sympathy to the victims' families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
Finally, Mr Schulz noted that people all over the world fall victim to jihadists almost every day. In recent months, suicide bombers have killed innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. This terror is global and to fight it, we must stand together in Europe and worldwide, he concluded.
Source: European Parliament