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Debate in the EU-Parliament on the increase of the detention period in Greece to more than 18 months

17.4.14 / 09:34:30 > 10:12:11 Parliamentary debate on the:
Prolongation of detention by Member States of illegally staying third-country nationals beyond the 18-month time limit in violation of the Return Directive

Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission.

− Mr President, I would like to answer on behalf of my colleague, Cecilia Malmström, who is unfortunately not able to attend today’s session.

The Return Directive provides very clearly that, after 18 months, administrative detention must be stopped and only lesser measures, such as residence restrictions or regular reporting can be applied. In our recent communication on EU return policy, we noted that before the Return Directive was adopted the maximum length of detention varied significantly across Member States and in at least nine there was no upper ceiling on how long returnees could be detained.

The Return Directive has contributed to a convergence and overall to the reduction of maximum detention periods across the European Union. While the legal time limits for detention have increased in eight Member States, they have decreased in 12 Member States. All Member States, including Greece, now have legislation in force which respects the maximum periods provided by the directive. The only exception is the United Kingdom, which decided not to opt into the Return Directive and which still allows unlimited detention.
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