Détails actualité

28/10/2011 Europe and You: the Parliament works to help single mothers, new parents and the disabled

Each week, Touteleurope.eu gives the highlights of what Europe has been doing for you, your rights, your health and your daily life. This week, MEPs are voting on providing support for single mothers, promoting the inclusion of disabled people and simplifying the procedures for public procurement.

More help for single mother

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on October 25th aiming to help and support single mothers; the number of women in this situation is constantly increasing because of the number of divorces and separations.
Single mothers will be able to get help for housing and will be prioritised on waiting lists for rentals. Companies that have childcare facilities and employ single parents will be able to get tax incentives.

The European Parliament’s resolution also places great importance on education and information on women’s sexual health and reproductive rights so that they can avoid unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, pregnant women should be able to continue their studies to improve their chances of finding work and therefore escaping poverty. Single mothers will also be able to take parenting courses to learn techniques on how to manage as a parent as well as professional courses. Single fathers will not be left behind as they can benefit from all the same initiatives as single mothers.

Promoting the inclusion of disabled people

"More than 80 million people, or 16% of the European Union’s total population, are living with a disability. One of the Europe 2020 Strategy’s objectives is to ensure that 75% of people aged 20 to 64 are in employment by 2020 and this cannot be achieved without including citizens who are living with a form of handicap" stated Adám Kósa (EPP, HU). The disabled are one of the groups most affected by the financial crisis in the EU with an unemployment rate currently standing at 45%.

To promote integration, the European Parliament is calling on the European Commission to quickly move to strengthen the existing provisions on fighting discrimination and improving accessibility for the future cohesion policy 2014-2020.

The resolution also calls on Member States and the Commission to recognise sign language as an official language in Member States and to ratify and implement the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (currently ratified by 17 Member States).

Simplifying the law on public procurement

This resolution defines the Parliament’s position on the important legislative proposal that the Commission is due to present in December aiming to review the European rules that regulate public works. Clarifying and simplifying these laws is particularly important in light of the current crisis.

Public works make up about 17% of the European Union’s GDP. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) only win 31% to 38% of the value of public works’ contracts – significantly less than their share in the economy would suggest is fair (52% of their combined turnover).

MEPs are therefore suggesting an electronic passport for public works on a European scale which would guarantee that the holder complies with European rules on public works. In the same way, the resolution recommends that contracts are granted to the company that offers the best return in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits and not simply to the cheapest offer.

Furthermore, giving access to public works should be promoted, particularly by making it possible to divide public works into lots.

Revision of the directive concerning maternity leave still at a standstill

The Council’s response to the oral question that Edite Estrela (S&D PT) asked yesterday on progression of revisions to the directive on maternity leave was highly anticipated at the plenary session.

The Parliament’s position of October 20th 2010 allows for 20 weeks of maternity leave (the current threshold is 14 weeks minimum) with full salary and two weeks of paternity leave fully paid.

Compromises on the length of leave, the level of payment and the provisions for paternity leave were being considered in order to reach agreement among Member States.

However, "apart from a few imperious declarations totally refusing any discussion, the Council has been silent on the matter for over a year", said Sylvie Guillaume, member of the Women’s rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM). The Council is still refusing to negotiate on the length of maternity leave.

Catherine Trautmann, president of the French socialist delegation, was very critical of the fact that "Parliament voted on a text a year ago and still has not got the slightest visibility on its possible implementation in the daily lives of European families".

Revision of the directive concerning maternity leave still at a standstill

The Council’s response to the oral question that Edite Estrela (S&D PT) asked yesterday on progression of revisions to the directive on maternity leave was highly anticipated at the plenary session.

The Parliament’s position of October 20th 2010 allows for 20 weeks of maternity leave (the current threshold is 14 weeks minimum) with full salary and two weeks of paternity leave fully paid.

Compromises on the length of leave, the level of payment and the provisions for paternity leave were being considered in order to reach agreement among Member States.

However, "apart from a few imperious declarations totally refusing any discussion, the Council has been silent on the matter for over a year", said Sylvie Guillaume, member of the Women’s rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM). The Council is still refusing to negotiate on the length of maternity leave.

Catherine Trautmann, president of the French socialist delegation, was very critical of the fact that "Parliament voted on a text a year ago and still has not got the slightest visibility on its possible implementation in the daily lives of European families".

Parliament urges caution in the use of antibiotics

Parliament is concerned about the threat antimicrobial resistance is posing to public health in Europe and all over the world in spite of the initiatives that have been undertaken at European level and also internationally. That is why Parliament is urging the European Commission to reduce excessive use of antibiotics in farming but also by the general public through banning preventative use of this type of medication.

The European Commission is also being called on to research and develop new microbial agents and alternatives as the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is responsible for 25,000 deaths in the European Union every year.

Also, in order to establish new information and awareness-raising strategies for the general public (more than one in two Europeans wrongly believe that antibiotics eliminate viruses and 47% believe they are effective against colds and flus), the Parliament recommends that the Commission carries out a campaign on the inappropriate sale and use of antibiotics.

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