Illegal immigrants to the EU may be detained for 18-months after the 27 member states reached agreement on the “Return Directive.”
It is the first time that the European Parliament has spoken on the issue of immigration, as policy usually rests with member states.
As well as dealing with the deportation of illegal immigrants, the directive covers access to detention centres by humanitarian groups across the EU.
The move comes as Italy’s new government issued a raft of new legislation designed to clamp down on illegal immigrants.
In Italy, illegal immigration is to be punishable by up to four years in jail, expulsion from the country will be made easier with a three-year jail term for those who use children to beg for money.