20th Jul 2019

EU to scrap maternity leave bill

  • The European Commission plans on withdrawing the EU maternity bill (Photo:

The European Commission is set to scrap its maternity leave proposal and announce new strategies on migration and security.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans will reveal the plans next week at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

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An internal EU commission document, seen by this website on Thursday (11 December), noted the maternity leave proposal will be pulled and replaced if no agreement is made in the next six months.

The bill, backed by the parliament in 2010, has been stuck at the EU member state level since.

The parliament proposed to extend minimum maternity leave in the EU from 14 to 20 weeks with full pay. It also called for six weeks of compulsory leave after childbirth.

Member states argue the 20 weeks on full pay is both unacceptable and unrealistic given the financial and economic crisis.

The commission had already listed the bill over the summer as one of among others set for burial in a legislative graveyard known as the regulatory fitness and performance programme (Refit).

The latest news is set to disappoint MEPs working on it.

The parliament’s lead negotiator, Italian centre-left Alessandra Moreitti, had met with the Italian EU presidency in September to discuss ways forward.

The talks followed earlier announcements by EU commission for justice Vera Jourova who said she intended to break the member-state deadlock.

Jourova, during her grilling by MEPs in October to become the next justice commissioner, said she wanted the maternity bill “approved next year”.

“I will fully support all efforts to revitalise the negotiations,” she said in a series of follow-up written response to the MEPs on the issue.

But Timmermans will tell another story.

He is set to tell MEPs next week that the vast majority of member states have improved maternity leave at the national level, in part as a response to its 2008 proposal.

“So there is no longer the same need to legislate at the EU level,” he is set to say, noting that other measures are needed to get women into jobs.

New internal security plan

He will also present new ideas on migration and internal security.

The Brussels executive plans to table a new European Security Agenda in response to threats such as cross-border crime, cybercrime, terrorism, and radicalisation.

Details are scant but EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos earlier this month spoke of expanding co-operation with countries outside the European Union.

He also said EU ministers discussed possible anti-terrorist legislation.

“We need to follow up on this issue and improve all relevant and legal instruments and present new EU legislation if needed,” he told reporters last week following the justice and home affairs council.

He said while anti-terrorism measures and actions are a member state domain, there is a need for EU-level coordination and exchange of information.

“For this aim, we must better use the possibilities offered by the Schengen information systems, in other words, to allow accelerated and improved information exchange on specific check alerts issued on foreign fighters,” he said.

The Italian EU presidency also has some ideas.

In September, it floated the idea of setting up a belt of so-called “police and customs cooperation centres” in North African countries and in the Balkans.

The centres would work with local police to exchange information on terrorism, immigration, trafficking in human beings and organised crime.

The plan, although it has yet to be formally discussed since September, has two phases.

The first would set up two information exchange centres: one in the bordering area between Greece and Turkey and the other in North Africa, possibly in Tunisia or Libya.

Phase two would strength links and information exchange of involved countries with the Italian law enforcement authorities.

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