MEPs are fuming over the European Commission’s move yesterday (1 July) to abandon laws that would expand maternity leave to 18 weeks.
Earlier this year, Parliament had pushed to save the Maternity Leave Directive after seven years in deadlocked talks with the Commission and Council.
Portuguese MEP Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), shadow rapporteur on the Directive, said, “The decision to withdraw this directive is scandalous and represents a huge backlash for women’s rights and gender equality in the EU.”
Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans signalled in a letter to Parliament President Martin Schulz last month that the bill would be scrapped.
EURACTIV previously reported on Timmermans’ letter to Schulz, where he emphasised that “the Commission will not take a final decision on a withdrawal of the 2008 proposal without presenting ideas for a fresh start”.
>>Read: Timmermans: Deadlocked maternity leave extension will be ditched
British MEP Catherine Bearder, ALDE’s coordinator for the women’s and gender equality committee in Parliament, said, “The Commission must come forward with a new legislative proposal immediately.”
“The Parliament is prepared to work together and find agreement, but letting the Council off the hook is a cop out that must not be tolerated.”
Timmermans wrote to Schulz last month that “there has been no convergence with the Council”.
The timeline on a new maternity leave deal is unclear.
The Commission said in a statement that the withdrawal of the directive will be effective once there’s a roadmap for new plans. But it isn’t clear if that will mean a proposal for new legislation or an informal announcement.
A Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV on Wednesday that there is no precise date set for when the withdrawal will go into effect. The spokesperson said that the executive’s roadmap will be published this month.