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Europe debates how to break deadlock on maternity leave
Rules on maternity leave vary widely between EU countries, however plans to harmonise them have been blocked by national governments since 2008. With the European Commission now threatening to withdraw its proposal, MEPs debate the situation on 19 May and will vote the next day on a resolution urging member states to resume negotiations.
Maternity leave on EU level is regulated by the 1992 directive, which sets the minimum period for maternity leave at 14 weeks, including two compulsory weeks and an allowance determined by national legislation. The Commission has proposed a revision of the directive, setting the minimum duration of maternity leave at 18 weeks, including six compulsory weeks and an allowance amounting to a full salary. In 2010 MEPs approved a proposal to extend maternity leave to at least 20 fully-paid weeks after birth, of which six compulsory.
Situation in the member states
Currently the duration of maternity leave in EU countries varies from 14 weeks to 28 weeks and in certain circumstances to up to 52 weeks, although not all of them are fully paid. There are also differences regarding the length of the compulsory period.
Last chance to break the deadlock
The Council has been blocking the proposition for more than four years. In December 2014 the Commission gave the Parliament and the Council a further six months to reach an agreement. On Tuesday 19 May, MEPs will discuss the future of the legislation with the Council and the Commission and the next day will vote on a resolution urging the Council to resume negotiations.