European & International News

Maternity leave: Council disregards Parliament’s position

[Brussels, 07 December 2010] European ministers for social affairs meeting yesterday in Brussels took a strong stand against the Parliament’s position on the ’Maternity Leave Directive’, disappointing the EWL and MEPs, who have criticised the Council for ignoring the new role of the Parliament as precribed by the Lisbon Treaty.

Press Release from the European Parliament Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

EP maternity leave rapporteur Edite Estrela criticized the Council of Ministers’ decision Monday evening to take the European Commission’s initial proposal of 18 weeks’ maternity leave, and not Parliament’s counter-proposal of 20 weeks, as a basis for further negotiations. This decision shows that the Council "didn’t fully understand Parliament’s role within the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty", she said.

"I regret that some Member States expressed a disrespectful position towards the European Parliament. When they implied that the only basis for a possible compromise is the European Commissions’ proposal, somehow it showed they didn’t fully understand the role of the Parliament within the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Neither did they take into consideration the large majority reached in the Parliament", said Ms Estrela (S&D, PT).

"However, I would like to thank the Belgian Presidency of the EU, and the representatives of the following (Hungarian) Presidency, for the commitment, determination and the efforts shown in order to work towards an agreement with the European Parliament. As Parliament’s rapporteur, I would like to reiterate my availability to work together with the Council in order to reach an agreement which will fulfil the needs of European families and of the European economy", she added.

On 20 October, Parliament amended the Commission’s initial proposal to provide 20 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay and introduce 2 weeks’ paternity leave, and also added provisions banning discrimination of pregnant workers and protecting the health and safety of pregnant women at work.

Next steps

The Belgian Presidency announced that before the end of the year, it would table recommendations on how to proceed.

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure

Rapporteur: Edite Estrela (S&D, PT)

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