Reaction Open Letter

What is left of the ambitious proposal for an EU Work-Life Balance Directive?

Brussels, 22nd June 2018

– Yesterday, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) Council agreed on a General Approach, on the Work-Life Balance Directive. This means that the legislative process can continue and, with a vote in the European Parliament expected in July 2018, families in Europe can still hope to see this directive approved before the 2019 European elections.

COFACE Families Europe together with more than 3400 NGOs and Trade Unions from all around Europe mobilised massively to push the different Members States to reach the common position agreed yesterday at the EPSCO Council.

“This is an important step towards the realisation of the ambitious proposal of European Commissioners Thyssen and Jourova. However, we have to strike a balance between recognising that Ministers agreed to move forward with the legislative process and the text that resulted from this decision. EPSCO Ministers have agreed on a text which has been emptied of many of its key components”, says Annemie Drieskens, COFACE Families Europe President.

The initial Commission proposal clearly showed the intention of moving towards a fairer and more equal Europe with elements such as: full non-transferability of parental leave and a high income replacement, proposed as the equivalent of pay received during sick leave for all three leaves (paternity, parental and carers).

This Directive was the first proposal that followed the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, when Member States committed to develop a framework for a social Europe. For this reason, a success of this text will also be a symbolic statement that Member States are committed to keep their word.

The level of standards included in the Council position is extremely low and one could conclude that Member States would agree only on a text where the obligations upon them were so limited to allow them to change as little as possible in their national legislations, instead of working together to create a progressive EU-wide framework.

We have published an analysis of the Council position and compare it to the initial European Commission’s proposal, measuring it against the COFACE position. The analysis is available here


Read European Council’s press release: Leave and flexible work for parents and carers: Council agrees general approach on the draft directive on work-life balance

For more information please contact

Paola Panzeri, Policy and Advocacy manager  +322 500 56 92
Ana Pérez, Communication manager  +322 500 56 93

Tweets: #IwantWorkLifebalance #EPSCOiscoming

About COFACE Families Europe

COFACE Families Europe has been involved for 60 years in building a strong social, family friendly Europe. COFACE Families Europe advocates for strong social policies that take into consideration family needs and guarantee equal opportunities for all families. More:

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