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European Commission - Press release

Delivering for parents: Commission withdraws stalled maternity leave proposal and paves the way for a fresh approach

Brussels, 01 July 2015

As foreseen in its 2015 Work Programme, the Commission today reviewed progress on the draft Maternity leave Directive, which has been stuck in the legislative process since 2008. The lack of progress by the co-legislators, despite the Commission's continuous and intensive efforts to facilitate an agreement, means the Commission has decided to withdraw its proposal. This opens the way for a fresh approach to meet the policy objectives of improving the protection of mothers, better reconciling professional and family life and facilitating female participation in the labour market.

The revision of the Maternity Leave Directive, including a longer period of leave and more rights for mothers, was proposed in 2008 by the Commission, but the co-legislators have not been able to come to an agreement and adopt the proposed legislation. The European Parliament indicated its political will to continue negotiations before the Commission presented its 2015 Work Programme, so the Commission agreed to an additional six months before withdrawing the proposal.

The Commission has engaged in intensive efforts to break the deadlock and has on several occasions urged the Council to re-enter discussions with the European Parliament, which expressed a will to compromise on its position. However, the Latvian Presidency of the Council has informed the Commission that there is no prospect for an agreement and encouraged the Commission to proceed with the withdrawal.

The Commission considers that prolonging the current deadlock by leaving a proposal on the table that has no chance of being adopted is not doing anything to improve the real day-to-day lives of working mothers. In withdrawing the proposal, the Commission wishes to make a clear break from the current stalemate and to open up the way for new initiatives that can be agreed and lead to real improvements in the lives of working parents and carers.

The Commission will present a broader initiative which will continue to promote the objectives of the previous proposal and provide minimum protection. The new initiative will take account of the developments in society over the past decade and use the best mix of available policy tools to deliver results as effectively as possible. In this context, the Commission will also examine a wider range of issues that face working parents and carers in their daily lives, including various forms of maternity and parental leave, work/life balance and the role of carers, to see how action at EU level can best contribute.

Before the withdrawal becomes effective, the Commission will set out its ideas for a new approach in the form of a roadmap towards a new initiative. A public consultation will allow a wide range of stakeholders, in particular the social partners, to contribute their views and ideas. The new initiative will be part of the Commission's Work Programme for 2016.


In Annex II of its 2015 Work Programme, the Commission identified a list of 80 pending proposals which would be withdrawn or amended in line with the principle of political discontinuity.

Of these 80 proposals, 3 would be withdrawn if no agreement could be reached within 6 months. The Commission has today reviewed progress on these proposals and taken the decision to withdraw the draft Maternity Leave Directive. This decision will be formalised in the Official Journal of the European Union in due course.

The Maternity Leave proposal was presented by the Commission in 2008, and the European Parliament issued its first reading position in 2010. The file has not progressed since then. Despite a series of Ministerial and technical discussions in Council, there has been no move to engage in negotiations with the Parliament. This position was recently confirmed by the Latvian Presidency of the Council.

For more information

2015 Commission Work Programme

Proposal for a Directive on Maternity Leave


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