Voting by the European Parliament on the so-called Return Directive will be delayed until 20-22 May, if necessary, in order to allow time for MEPs to secure a first-reading agreement with Council. The delay was confirmed by Parliament's Conference of Presidents on 10 January.

Intensive negotiations have been held between the institutions in recent months in order to broker a deal on the draft legislation, the original proposals for which were presented by the European Commission back in September 2005. The current prediction of the Slovenian EU Presidency, according to a spokesperson, is that agreement can realistically be reached in time for the Justice and Home Affairs Council to adopt a general approach in June, but that it is unlikely to come any sooner. She emphasised that several issues still remain unresolved.

The Slovenian Interior Minister,aDragutin Mate, expressed similar views to Europolitics just before the Christmas break. He stressed that the negotiations were "very hard," and that agreement had yet to be reached on the controversial issue of the time limits which should apply to detention.


The situation is currently complicated by the lack of a common position on the directive in Council. It is now known that the approach taken by the Portuguese EU Presidency was to hold discussions with Parliament despite this lack of agreement among member...

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