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Unfortunately, due to the heavy snow, Edward Davey, Minister for Employment Relations, was unable to attend today's meeting of the EU Employment Council (EPSCO) in Brussels, but was instead represented by Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment.
Mr Grayling, along with Ministers from seven other member countries, agreeid then presented a strong collective statement to make clear their joint concerns about the proposed new Pregnant Workers Directive and was quoted as saying, “This is an important development. Member States have made plain their concerns. There couldn’t be a clearer sign of the strength of feeling than the joint statement tabled today.”
When asked to comment on the day's events in Brussels, Edward Davey said, “The UK and other countries have today made clear that EU rules on maternity rights should not be reformed in a costly and regressive way. The changes proposed by MEPs would restrict a Member State’s ability to deliver a system that works in the best interests of parents.
“We have agreed that we must pause for reflection before we determine how, or indeed if, an acceptable compromise can be reached. On the basis of the current proposals it is difficult to see how such a compromise can be achieved.”
NB: Under the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (formerly known as the "co-decision" procedure) the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers each adopt a 1st reading position based on a proposal from the European Commission. The European Parliament adopted its first reading position on the Pregnant Workers Directive on 20 October 2010, and the Council of Ministers is now considering its position. Until the Council adopts its first reading position, these proposals will not progress further.
Given this Directive is subject to the co-decision procedure, which means that proposals must be agreed by Member States and the European Parliament, will this collective statement be enough to see off these potentially costly maternity proposals?