Lühmann: Don’t give up on maternity leave reform

9 Jun 2015

In the context of the announcement by the European Commission that it will withdraw its maternity leave directive proposal if no progress is made on the file in negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers by this summer, the President of CESI's Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Commission (FEMM), Kirsten Lühmann, today called on the EU Member State governments to stop their blockade of the file in the Council of Ministers and finally start negotiating with the European Parliament.

Lühmann: Don’t give up on maternity leave reform

“If the reform of maternity leave has not finally advanced by this summer, the project will be off the table for years. The Member States’ strategy of playing the waiting game in the Council of Ministers would have been successful,” warns Kirsten Lühmann. At the end of May, the European Parliament had reiterated its clear support for a reform of maternity leave, which has been discussed in the EU for years. “The blockade comes from the Council. However, the national governments must not let this opportunity to reform pass; they have to move and play with open cards at last,” says Lühmann.

The FEMM President asks to support an online petition of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) to save the reform. “The European Commission will withdraw the draft directive if there is no agreement by this summer. This cannot be allowed. The better protection of mothers should not fall victim to purely economic considerations.” In particular, the governments of Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom have been slowing down reform efforts.

“CESI does not step back from its demands: an increase in the minimum length of maternity leave from 14 to at least 18 weeks as well as a harmonisation of existing national rules, which will improve working conditions,” Luehmann explains with regards to CESI’s position paper on maternity leave that was adopted by the FEMM Commission in spring earlier this year. “The European Union will also be judged according to whether it can bring about real improvements for mothers. A failure would be a devastating blow.”