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Agreement on the Return Directive reached in the Council

Today at the level of Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), the Slovenian Presidency has secured agreement on the compromise proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (the "Return Directive"). The Presidency will inform the European Parliament, hoping that an agreement in the first reading will be possible.

"The objective of the proposed directive is to provide for clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning return, removal, use of coercive measures, detention and re-entry, which take into full account the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons concerned. We hope that, following a series of successful trialogue meetings, the European Parliament will be able to give its support to the directive in the process of co-decision," said the President of the Council for the area of Home Affairs, Slovenian Interior Minister Dragutin Mate.

If adopted, the directive will establish a common set of rules applicable to third-country nationals staying illegally on the territory of Member States. The directive will leave unaffected the procedural and substantive safeguards for asylum seekers, which will be regulated in another directive. Special provisions are made for vulnerable persons, in particular unaccompanied minors. The directive will establish a set of rights for illegally staying persons facing return and will give priority to voluntary compliance.

Detention will only be permitted where other less coercive measures cannot be applied and will require a decision in writing with legal and factual reasons. Detention shall be for as short a period as possible and only maintained as long as removal arrangements are in progress. The maximum period of detention will be limited to six months (with the possibility of extending it for a further twelve-month period in specified circumstances). Full judicial review of detention will be guaranteed.

"The proposed directive is in full respect of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and constitutes a significant improvement vis-a-vis the current situation in many Member States. The conditions will not deteriorate anywhere," also stressed Minister Mate.


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Date: 23.05.2008