At the end of February (24.02.2016), MEP Filiz Hyusmenova (BG, ALDE), tabled a Written Declaration on universal access to maternal healthcare in the European Parliament, with a view to pushing maternal healthcare up the list of political priorities for Europe.

So what is a Written Declaration and what does this mean?

Written declarations are a way for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to initiate or reintroduce parliamentary discussion on a matter of common concern. The declarations themselves are short texts (up to 200 words).

To get the ball rolling, at least 10 Members from a minimum of three political groups are required to submit the a written declaration which in turn needs to authorised by the President of the European Parliament and then registered.

Once this is done, the declaration is distributed to fellow MEPs with the request that they sign it to offer their support. It is available on the European Parliament website (or in full at the end of this article.)

(http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/written-declarations.html – Reference: P8_DCL(2016)0015)

If a majority of MEPs sign the declaration within three months, in this case by 24.05.2016, it is published in the minutes with the names of its signatories and forwarded to the addressees, in this case the Council and the Commission. The institution then has a maximum of three months to respond to the European Parliament with details of how it intends to address the issue highlighted by the declaration. If there is no response within that time frame, it is then placed on the agenda of a subsequent meeting of the responsible committee.

So why a written declaration?

Written declarations in the European Parliament are used as way of launching or relaunching debate on a particular subject, and putting the issue on the agenda.

How is the Alliance for Maternal Health Equality (AMHE) involved in the Declaration?

The Declaration needs the support of MEPs to ensure that its adoption leads to a resolution on the issue. The Alliance will be raising awareness of the Declaration through various channels urging MEPs to play their part in helping to improve the situation of mothers in Europe.

The Text of the Declaration:

0015/2016

24.2.2016

WRITTEN DECLARATION 

submitted under Rule 136 of the Rules of Procedure on universal access to maternal healthcare

Filiz Hyusmenova (ALDE), Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea (ALDE), Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), Louis Michel (ALDE), Ivan Jakovčić (ALDE), Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL), Marc Tarabella (S&D),
Jana Žitňanská (ECR), Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), Mariya Gabriel (PPE), Caterina Chinnici (S&D)

Lapse date: 24.5.2016

Written declaration, under Rule 136 of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, on universal access to maternal healthcare.

In an EU of differing health systems, maternal health is a vulnerable area characterised by disparities in universal access to healthcare and information, which leads to health inequities, especially for vulnerable groups.

  1. Equitable access to maternal healthcare, which is interconnected to a range of policies such as resilient health systems, maternity leave and responsibility for future generations, is often regarded as a sub-point, lacking real-life statistics and being neglected at EU and international level (for instance in the Sustainable Development Goals).
  2. The Council and the Commission are therefore called upon to encourage the Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that all women in Europe, regardless of migration status or minority origin, have the opportunity to be informed and proactive, and enjoy universal access to high quality maternal healthcare.
  3. The Council and the Commission are called upon to recommend that the Member States cooperate among themselves and with EU bodies and NGOs to exchange best practices in the area of maternal healthcare, with a view to endorsing more detailed action on establishing monitoring and data collection processes, providing a concrete statistical basis for future policies aimed at improving maternal healthcare access in Europe, and creating resilient health systems.
  4. This declaration, together with the names of the signatories, is forwarded to the Council and the Commission.