In 2008, the Commission submitted a proposal to limit the period of maternity leave granted to working mothers to 18 weeks, in keeping with International labour Organisation (ILO) standards. No agreement has yet been reached and the Commission has stated that, if no agreement is reached by June 2015, it will withdraw the proposal and revert with a ‘modern alternative proposal’. The ETUC considers that any such development would be extremely worrying, as such a proposal will not be legally binding and will be of little value.

Any such development will have a massive impact on the legislation of numerous Member States, such as Germany, Austria, Croatia, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, where working mothers are paid approximately 16% less a month than men and their pensions are 40% lower.
In view of the above, will the Commission say:

— What is the reason for the extensive delay in the law-making procedure and what are the points of contention in the co-decision procedure?
— What initiatives does it intend to take to help resolve negotiations?
— What are the main axes of the anticipated ‘modern alternative proposal’?

Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission

The Commission's 2008 proposal(1) to revise the Pregnant Workers Directive(2) has been blocked due to the diverging positions of the co-legislators.

The Commission has repeatedly stressed its willingness to facilitate negotiations on this proposal, has engaged in continuous efforts to break the deadlock. It has given its full support to both co-legislators in order to try to find a realistic and mutually acceptable solution.

However, despite all the work undertaken, there has been no convergence between the co-legislators. The Council never reached the first reading stage and the Coreper meeting on 15 April 2015 confirmed a clear lack of support for pursuing the dossier. The Latvian Presidency therefore decided that there was no prospect of an agreement.

The Commission shares the Parliament's disappointment as regards the lack of progress but it is committed to improving the situation of working parents in the European Union. This is an important objective from both a gender equality perspective and as regards the participation of women in the labour market, particularly in the context of current demographic trends. Therefore, the Commission will not take a final decision on withdrawal of the 2008 proposal without presenting ideas for a fresh start, as proposed in its Work Programme.

The Commission looks forward to discussing further with the European Parliament once the internal reflections are completed.

(1) COM(2008) 637 final.
(2) Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19.10.1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding OJ L 348 of 28.11.1992, p.1.