U.N. special envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi told the EU's Foreign Affairs committee that an expectation that Mali could hold an election by July was ambitious given the security situation and the number of internally displaced people.
"We have to organize what has become a fragmented society," he said.
French forces are preparing to leave the country to make way for a U.N. mission. The Malian government in January called on former colonial power France to help fight foreign and al-Qaida fighters in the north of the country. Control over the north was lost following an early 2012 coup.
Prodi called on EU members to make "major political commitments" to Mali. The initiative in Mali is "not to achieve the impossible but to create a situation in which the Sahel countries can work together," he said.
Malian Ambassador to the United Nations Oumar Daou told the Security Council last week he supported a so-called U.N. parallel force "whose objective will be to carry out large-scale anti-terrorist and combat operations."
The United Nations approved a similar mission for the Democratic Republic of Congo.