EU Parliament: Franziska Brantner's going on maternity leave

Franziska Brantner - EU Parliament: Franziska Brantner's going on maternity leave
Franziska Brantner
In the European Parliament, maternity protection was her big issue - she fought to extend the directive to include fathers and allow them paternity leave throughout Europe.

Now, Franziska Brantner, Member of the European Parliament, is on maternity leave herself. Before she left, she had chat with our sister site,

Franziska Brantner joined the European Parliament in 2009 aged just 30, and was quickly known as one of its most outspoken members. It was widely agreed that Brantner "does not mince her words!" - a character trait that journalists loved and colleagues feared.

Fought for maternity protection in the European Parliament
Brantner forcefully put forward her views, especially where maternity protection was concerned: “There are two drafts on the table for a new maternity protection directive. One includes fathers. We can forget the other one from the start.” In this connection, she also attacks the Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding. “Her ideas fall far short of what we are hoping for,” she says.

The irony is that although the European Parliament has the issue of maternity protection high on its agenda, it has no respective provisions in place for its own members. “Originally, it was men in their sixties who devised the administrative provisions at the time. They thought of cars and pensions, but not of maternity protection,” says Marianna Karlberg from the European Network of Women.

Be that as it may, Brantner is now looking forward to a little time away from the European Parliament. “I am looking forward to my little girl enormously and especially to the time I shall be able to spend with her,” she says.

© Franziska Brantner
© Franziska Brantner
Studies at elite institutions, a PHD,  a stratospheric career
... and mother-to-be
“Everybody who knows me knows that contents are important to me,” says Brantner, herself an expert in political science. “I want things to progress.”

This is probably why she joined the Green Party when she was just 15. She campaigned for a cultural center in her hometown of Freiburg and made rapid headway in her career.

Brantner studied at Columbia University in New York and at the famous Sciences Po in Paris. She worked for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, closely associated with the Green Party, which gave her sponsorship for the academically gifted, and she also received a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation.

As if that wasn't enough, Brantner obtained a PHD in international law and worked as an adviser to the UN Commission on Women’s Rights. 

Now maternity leave – will she actually manage to sit still? “I shall definitely try to scale back my activities. I want to switch off totally for the first few weeks,” she says and then adds: “And then I’ll be looking forward to coming back!”

Staying on the ball
Make no mistake, Brantner will keep a close eye though on the political changes affecting women that will happen during this time.

“No doubt, I’ll keep an eye on my issues, even if I won’t get directly involved.” Unlike Commissioner Reding, Brantner is not happy to rely solely on the goodwill of companies, but wants legal regulation: “Wherever women with the same qualification and doing the same job don’t earn the same, there must be complaint procedures available throughout Europe; and not only for individuals, but also for groups or associations.”

With her baby born in May, Brantner is happy to be taking maternity leave, but not without the father doing his share, she says. She intends to take up her post at the parliament again on 1 September while her partner will take two months paternity leave to stay home with the baby. It's everything she's worked for - but the fight's not over yet.



Shila Meyer Behjat
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