Monday

24th Apr 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A bill to reform 20-year old EU laws on maternity leave is being withdrawn after being stuck at the member state level for too long.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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Feature

How a Swedish love mob fights online hate

A Swedish group helping people to take the fight against online hate and lies had busy days after the recent terrorist attack in Stockholm.

MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay

A revision of the posted workers directive aims to make the single market fairer, but critics see efforts to root out "social dumping" as disguised protectionism.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

Feature

Civil society steps in to fight rising obesity

By 2030, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of Europeans will be obese. With a lack of public policies and coherent strategies, civil society is often the one trying to find a solution.

News in Brief

  1. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning
  2. Land mine kills OSCE observer in Ukraine
  3. Italy prosecutor claims NGOs are working with migrant smugglers
  4. Danish defence hacked by Russian cyberspies
  5. EU trade commissioner in US to pick up TTIP talks
  6. Juncker to meet Soros on Hungary next week
  7. Timmermans praises Romania's anti-corruption measures
  8. Trump says 'strong Europe' is good for the US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Les fake news inondent les réseaux sociaux français
  2. Les amis de Le Pen à la Trump Tower
  3. France's election run-off will be far-right versus EU
  4. Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right
  5. Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK
  6. Russia threat triggers European military spending hike
  7. Voters 'change face' of French politics
  8. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote