Friday

2nd Dec 2022

Controversial maternity leave bill scrapped

  • The proposed 20-week maternity leave was criticised strongly in some member states (Photo: Wikipedia)

A bill to reform 20-year old EU laws on maternity leave is being withdrawn after being stuck at the member state level for too long.

“The commission’s proposal on the maternity leave directive has not been discussed for more than two and half years,” EU commissioner Sim Kallas told deputies in Strasbourg on Tuesday (15 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Kallas said the proposal has been blocked “for too long with no progress at all for almost three years.”

First proposed by the European Commission in 2008, the revised directive wanted to extend and improve paid maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks.

MEPs, for their part, pushed it to 20 weeks and then adopted the reforms in October 2010.

A handful of member states then objected to the parliament’s position in December of the same year, creating an impasse.

Critics said the 20-week leave was too long and would be an undue burden on businesses.

Others said it was too detailed and that issues like breast feeding times and special arrangements for working parents with disabled children would be better decided at the national level.

A last ditch effort at the Council level, representing member states, was made in May 2012 under the Danish EU presidency.

But a blocking minority - formed by the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, Malta, Latvia, and Ireland - meant the presidency's hands were tied.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding also tried to broker a deal between member states and the parliament but failed.

As a result, the commission listed the bill as one of among others set for burial in a legislative graveyard known as the regulatory fitness and performance programme (Refit).

Another EU source said starting anew could be a good thing because the proposal’s legal basis was too narrow to begin with.

“This dossier needs a fresh start for a more modern directive, notably to help fix the issue of the legal basis,” said the contact.

The proposal’s legal basis was restricted to women's health.

This meant paternity leave fell outside its scope, something the parliament wanted to include in the first place.

The current Italian EU presidency, has said it is willing to look at a new proposal with conditions in place to avoid another “dead end”.

“We can try again, it is worthwhile trying again and we are ready if we start off with a new political point of departure, a new beginning, a fresh beginning,” said Italy's state secretary for EU affairs Sandro Gozi.

Commission axes pregnant workers bill

The European Commission has announced that a plan to extend maternity leave for pregnant workers is one of five bills that will not be retabled in the next legislature.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us