Thursday

20th Jul 2017

Controversial maternity leave bill scrapped

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

A bill to reform 20-year old EU laws on maternity leave is being withdrawn after being stuck at the member state level for too long.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

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Parents of EU children win right to stay

Countries cannot automatically refuse residence to parents of EU children simply because the other parent could care for the minor, the EU's top court ruled on Wednesday.

News in Brief

  1. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  2. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  3. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  4. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  5. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  6. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  7. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform
  8. EU immigration to Switzerland at lowest level since 2005

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  2. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  3. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  4. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  5. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  6. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable
  7. EU Commission readies Article 7 procedure against Poland
  8. Fake EU parliament jobs case reaches French left leader