Cheer as EU drops "anti-jobs" directive

Anthea McIntyre MEP today welcomed an announcement that plans for a set of EU rules on maternity leave have finally been dropped.

Conservatives have consistently opposed the proposals on the grounds that countries should be allowed to decide their own maternity arrangements, instead of having a set of conditions imposed by Brussels.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said:  "It is a welcome relief that this meddlesome proposal has finally been ditched, but it has taken seven years of dogged opposition to see it off. This shows exactly why David Cameron is right to push for repatriation of employment and social law as part of his reform and renegotiation agenda."

The maternity-leave directive was first put forward in 2008, but the legislation has been blocked because by Conservative opposition and a lack of agreement between the European Parliament and national governments.

The UK Government, along with many other countries, insists such rules should be decided at a national level and not through a blanket EU approach.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "Many businesses in my region, especially smaller enterprises who lack the staff numbers to absorb long periods of paid absence, were fearful of what this legislation might bring. Such fear will often mean people play safe and decide against growth and expansion. That is how jobs opportunities are lost.

"I am encouraged that Vice President Timmermans (who is leading the EU Commission's avowed programme of weeding out unhelpful and unnecessary legislation) has finally put this particular issue to bed. It was an EU exercise in social engineering that we will all be better off without."