Before the corona pandemic, MEPs always had to be physically present to cast a vote. Recently, digital voting was temporarily allowed, which made it a bit easier. But it still means that a MEP cannot really go on maternity leave, because she has to keep a close eye on her files in order to vote.

For many MEPs it is a thorn in the side, because it has already been arranged in many EU countries. Like the European Parliament, six countries have not yet arranged anything: Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Also paternity and parental leave?

To change the rules, EU countries must agree to amend the European electoral law. It has been talked about for years, but so far it has not led to any change. The parliament and the EU countries point to each other for the reasons.

Yet the pressure to change the electoral law is growing. In the meantime, maternity leave is no longer just discussed; for example, a growing number of MEPs also want to include paternity and parental leave in law.

CDA MEP Jeroen Lenaers is in favor of paternity leave. Last year he became a father for the first time and he would have liked to take a leave of absence. Bert-Jan Ruissen, MEP for the SGP, is also in favor. But it is likely that many more babies will be born before the rules change.

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