GUE/NGL MEPs on the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) today voted in favour of a resolution urging the Council and member states to resume the stalled negotiations on the Maternity Leave Directive.

The current Directive was adopted in 1992 and revised in October 2010 on the basis of a European Commission proposal (Estrela Report). The resolution adopted then by the European Parliament provided, inter alia, 20 weeks of maternity leave and 2 weeks of paternity leave with full pay, as well as measures aimed at protecting women who have recently given birth when returning to work.  This proposal has since been blocked at Council level and at the beginning of this legislature, the Juncker Commission decided to include it in its REFIT programme, which means the proposal will be withdrawn unless the European Council unblocks the procedure by the end of this month.

GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber, Vice-Chair on the FEMM Committee, said: “The behaviour of the European Council is very significant: it is always in agreement when it comes to cutting wages and reducing workers' rights, but it cannot reach a consensus to raise the rights of families and working mothers. The decision by the European Commission to withdraw the directive is even more outrageous as it comes at a time when several EU countries face serious issues related to ageing populations and there is a clear need to promote higher birth rates, which are essential for the future development of our societies.”

For Malin Björk, GUE/NGL coordinator on FEMM, “This threat to get rid of the Maternity Leave Directive is serious because it contradicts the European Union's so-called commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe. It will also create a dangerous precedent for the “better regulation” agenda (REFIT), which is sacrificing social standards in the name of administrative burdens.”

Spanish GUE/NGL MEP Angela Vallina said: “By approving this resolution, the Committee is highlighting the fact that there is a consolidated majority in the European Parliament that wants to get this Directive out of the closet. There is no better time than now to push forward this draft bill, which will help advance gender equality. Workers' rights should never have to wait; they should always come first. Otherwise we just put our efforts into neoliberal-led economic guidelines directed by big companies. It's time to be brave.”





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