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Monday, 4 May 2009 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Equal treatment between men and women engaged in a self-employed capacity - Pregnant workers (debate)

  Maria Petre, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group.(RO) I would first of all like to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Estrela, for her report and the effort she has put into this.

I believe that improving Directive 92/85 provides a solution to a genuine, serious problem which Europe is facing. I am referring to both the ageing population and the population decline which we have been talking about for so long. From our point of view in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, having the family as a fundamental value certainly entitles us to devise a political measure focusing on this issue, which is also why we welcome what is happening with regard to the directive on maternity and to maternal health.

I was pleased to hear in this House Commissioner Špidla supporting the extension of the maternity period, as was approved by our Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. I do not think that this is related to equal access to the labour market for women. We are also all aware that the World Health Organization and UNICEF support the fact, corroborated with scientific arguments, that women who have given birth actually need 24 weeks to completely recover their working capacity.

I believe that we must not make young women choose between a home life and a career. Indeed, our discussion today about amending the directive will actually provide a basis for achieving this work-life balance. I welcome the introduction of the notion of paternity leave, even though it is not necessary at the moment, because it allows us at least to send a signal to young families which are expecting something like this from us, the European Parliament.

I believe that having both parents at home is vital for babies during their first weeks of life. I also think that motherhood and fatherhood are a fact of life, which is why I agree with treating this matter in the way it deserves and not like a problem or possibly an inconvenience. As a Romanian MEP and mother of two children born, unfortunately, under the Communist regime which my country lived through, I can assure you that I have additional reasons for supporting the measures proposed.

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