“The new Commission needs to do better in defending pregnant workers and new mothers”

A disappointing blow has been dealt to EU social policy progress as the European Parliament discusses the withdrawal of the Commission’s proposals on the maternity leave directive.

“The new Commission needs to do better in defending pregnant workers and new mothers”

Put on the table by the Commission in 2008, the directive which would revise decades-old legislation wanted to extend paid maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks. The European Parliament voted for an extension to 20 weeks in 2010. At the end of this year, a number of member states objected to MEPs’ position.

The legislative stalemate has not moved on since December 2010, despite a number of failed attempts by the Danish Presidency and the Commission.  Speaking to MEPs about the proposals, Commissioner Kallas said “The Commission’s proposal on the maternity leave directive has not been discussed for more than two and half year.”

CESI supports a letter to MEP’s co-signed by the European Women’s Lobby, an NGO of which CESI is a member. The letter calls on MEPs to oppose the withdrawal and to reiterate the Parliament’s support for better maternity rights. CESI believes that pregnancy and maternity security are crucial to in achieving gender equality and protecting women’s rights.

The withdrawal is part of the EU’s REFIT agenda, an EU policy aimed at simplifying legislation, reducing administrative burdens and dropping legislative proposals which make no progress in negotiations. The Commission and the Italian Presidency underlined that a more modern text could be proposed with a fresher approach.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger is disappointed at the prospect of the withdrawal, “This is not a great start after the elections for a more social Europe. I hope to see the new Commission, led by a new President committed to a more social Europe, presenting fresh proposals which defend the rights of pregnant workers and new mothers.”

The letter to MEPs can be read in full here.