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Autism-Europe joins large coalition in support of the Work-life balance Directive

On the 21 June, Ministers of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs from EU Member States will meet in to decide whether to back a proposal for a Directive on Work-life balance for parents and carers.

The proposed Directive is the first piece of legislation to come out of the EU’s new European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed on November 17, 2017. A Directive under EU law is a binding piece of legislation that Member States transpose into their national jurisdiction. This Directive seeks to establish an adequate framework to address challenges parents and carers face every day.

However, several Member States oppose the ambition of the Directive, particularly with regards to the length and cost of paid parental and carer leave. Autism-Europe has thus joined other non-governmental organisations, trade unions, Members of the European Parliament and Members of the European Economic and Social Committee in an open letter urging Ministers to adopt a Council position on the proposal. You can read the full letter below.

Letter to Ministers: It’s in your hands – the fate of working parents and carers across Europe depends on you

Time for the EPSCO Council to adopt a position on the EU Work-Life Balance directive

Dear Ministers,

We represent, via our European umbrella organisations, 3471 NGOs and 89 trade union confederations. Our call is joint with the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of three political groups in the European Parliament, the Rapporteur and shadow Rapporteurs of five political groups, and the Presidents and Vice Presidents of three Intergroups and Coalitions of the European Parliament, together with the Presidents of two groups in the European Economic and Social Committee.

We urge you to respect European citizens and their representatives by moving forward and adopting a Council position on the proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance for parents and carers at your meeting on 21st June 2018.

On this date, you will be asked to position yourself in favour or against the Council position on the EU Work-Life Balance Directive. With your decision, you will not only express your country position on a text, but you will also decide on the fate of millions of parents and carers in the European Union: people who struggle every day to juggle their responsibilities towards their children, families and other people with support needs, with their working lives.

The existing EU legal and institutional framework fails to sufficiently address challenges faced by its citizens and does not provide adequate solutions for the needs of modern societies. This proposed directive includes provisions for improving equal sharing of work and care between women and men, by introducing minimum standards for paid paternity leave, paid parental leave, carers leave and flexible working arrangements for parents and carers.

The proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance is the right way forward and we urge you to adopt a Council position and not further delay the adoption of a general approach.

All EU Heads of State and Governments, together with the EU Institutions, proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights in Gothenburg in November 2017 and this directive is the first concrete output that would transform the principles of the Pillar into reality, providing improvements to the lives of millions of parents and carers.

The European Commission published the proposal for a directive on 26 April 2017. The European Social and Economic Committee delivered its opinion, in broad support of the proposal, in December 2017. The European Parliament has a clear calendar of works: the Legal Affairs Committee and the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee have already voted on their respective opinions and the Employment and Social Affairs Committee will vote in the coming weeks. All these procedures are transparent and European citizens can follow them step by step, exposing the elected representatives to scrutiny.

On the contrary, the deliberations in the Council are not subject to the same level of transparency. This can lead to indefinite postponement of decisions, with the excuse that a compromise cannot be reached among the national delegations with citizens left in the dark about why there is a lack of progress.

More than a year after its publication and one year from the 2019 European elections, it is now time for you to take up your responsibility and secure that citizens recover trust in the European project and its social dimension.

Working parents and their families as well as carers and those who depend on them do not have time to lose.

Please do not waste this opportunity to show your citizens you care about them.


COFACE Families Europe

AGE Platform Europe

Alzheimer Europe


European Disability Forum




European Network for Independent Living

European Women’s Lobby

European Youth Forum

ILGA Europe

Inclusion Europe

International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus

Make Mothers Matter

Mental Health Europe

Social Platform

SOS Children’s Villages International

European Trade Union Confederation – ETUC

Udo Bullman MEP, S&D President

Philippe Lamberts MEP, Greens/EFA Co-President

Monika Vana MEP, Greens/EFA Vice-President

Gabriele Zimmer MEP, GUE/NGL President

David Casa MEP, EMPL Rapporteur and EPP EMPL coordinator

Maria Arena MEP, S&D EMPL shadow rapporteur

Agnes Jongerius MEP, S&D EMPL coordinator

Vilija Blinkeviciute MEP, S&D FEMM shadow rapporteur

Iraxte Garcia-Perez MEP, S&D FEMM coordinator

Jana Zitnanska, MEP, ECR EMPL shadow rapporteur

Ernest URTASUN MEP, Greens/EFA FEMM shadow rapporteur and co-coordinator

Terry Reintke MEP, Greens/EFA FEMM co-coordinator

Tania Gonzales Penas MEP, GUE/NGL EMPL shadow Rapporteur

Olga Senhalova MEP, President Disability intergroup

Brando Benifei MEP, Vice-Chair, Disability Intergroup

Marek Plura, MEP, Vice President of the Disability Intergroup

Miriam Dalli MEP, Chair of the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the EP

Daniele Viotti MEP, co-Chair of the LGBTI Intergroup

Gabriele Bischoff, President of the Workers’ Group, European Economic and Social Committee.

R.A. Arno Metzler, President of the Diversity Europe Group, European Economic and Social Committee