The European Commission is to withdraw its proposals to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive.
Changes to the directive, which were announced in 2008, would have increased the minimum period of maternity leave across Europe from 14 to 18 weeks, and then to 20 weeks’ fully-paid maternity leave.
It would have also strengthened measures to protect women from dismissal on returning to work and two weeks’ fully-paid paternity leave.
The draft directive had its first reading by European Parliament in 2010, but had been stalled in the EU Council of Ministers for nearly four years.
The European Commission intends to remove the bill under its Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme (Refit), which is aimed at simplifying EU law.
The EU Commission said: “The Commission considers it good legislative management to withdraw proposals that do not advance in the legislative process, in order to allow for a fresh start or for alternative ways to achieve the intended legislative purpose.”
Joanna Maycock, secretary general of the European Women’s Lobby, added: “The threat to remove the [Pregnant Workers Directive] from the legislative process is serious and undermines the democratic process of the European Parliament’s adopted position.
“This negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe.”