The minimum period of maternity leave in the EU should go up by almost 50 per cent according to the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights Commission, to 20 weeks.The proposal is longer – by two weeks – than the minimum maternity leave proposed by the European Commission last October, and many member states thought even THAT was too much. Germany is one of those opposed to any increase, and gives its mother the bare minimum under current law, 14 weeks. Belgium and France are slightly more generous. Britain and Bulgaria already go beyond what is now being proposed, with 26 and 45 weeks maternity leave respectively. But the daddy-of-them-all is Sweden where new parents get 75 weeks off – that is nearly a year and a half. So by the time it is over, the newborn could be a toddler who has sprouted teeth. But it is not strictly-speaking “maternity” leave in Sweden. The time off work to look after baby can be transferred between either parent.