Ahead of the meeting of EU governments’ representatives on Wednesday, the Socialists and Democrats call on the European Council to come to the negotiation table with a renewed mandate in order to achieve the common goal of improving rights for working parents and carers.
In September, the European Parliament adopted a mandate for an ambitious and progressive Work-Life Balance (WLB) Directive aimed at enabling parents and carers to balance their professional and private lives. The Directive should provide for well-compensated paternity, parental and carers leaves, as well as for flexible working arrangements.
S&D vice-president for economic and social affairs, Mercedes Bresso MEP, said:
“In the run-up to the European elections and with the rise of populism and Euroscepticism across the EU, there is no time to lose. The EU must show its citizens what it stands for and what it does to improve their lives. We Socialists and Democrats know where we stand and are proving that every single day by fighting for workers’ rights and wellbeing, as well as that of their families. This is what the Work-Life Balance Directive is all about. We want working parents and carers to be able to take leaves that are well compensated in order to take care of their families and friends in need.
“The moment to achieve better conditions for European workers and their families is now. This week will be one year since the EU leaders signed the European Pillar of Social Rights. Yet, there is little to show in terms of achievements as many of the legislative files falling under the Pillar are blocked in the Council. Today, more than ever, we need to implement it. The ball is in the Council's court now. Member states must fulfil their pledges and deliver on the first law under the Pillar.”
S&D negotiator on the Work-Life Balance Directive, Marie Arena MEP, said:
“During the negotiations with the Council, the Parliament has demonstrated team spirit and willingness to compromise for the sake of EU citizens. We need to see that the Council is ready to follow our example and act on its promises. We urge the Council to come to the negotiation table with a renewed mandate that enables both parties to achieve our common goal: to improve the lives of working parents and carers.
“Different national systems can no longer be an excuse to delay progress at the European level that will benefit all. This Directive is at the core of efforts to ensure a high level of protection across Europe. It will reduce gender inequality both in the labour market and at home where an unequal share of caring responsibilities occurs. We S&Ds are convinced that the paternity, parental and carers’ leaves are a fair and a balanced way towards achieving these goals. We are fighting for a paternity leave of at least 10 days and paid at the level of maternity leave or at least 80% of the gross wage; a well-paid carers’ leave of at least 5 days; and for a parental leave that is paid enough to allow both mothers and fathers to take it without having to compromise based on who can afford it.
“While we understand the restraints that might exist in different member states, we insist in exploring solutions that are feasible and acceptable. European citizens cannot wait. Let’s make the Work-Life Balance Directive a reality before the European elections.”