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Commission agrees to extend time for social partners' negotiations on reviewing EU rules

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The European Commission has agreed to a joint proposal from the European social partners to extend the negotiating period on reviewing the Working Time Directive to 31 December 2012, given that their negotiations are making progress.

The Commission consulted the European social partners during 2010 about possible changes to the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC). Under Article 154 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the EU), the Commission must consult with management and labour at EU level before proposing any changes to EU social legislation, including EU labour law.

Under Article 154(4) TFEU, the EU level social partners have the right, if the employer and worker representatives so agree, to enter negotiations themselves on what changes should be made.

The review of the Working Time Directive is aimed at updating EU working time rules to take account of profound changes in the world of work and to better meet the needs of employers and workers in the 21st century. Following the Commission's consultations with them, the main cross-sectoral social partners at EU level informed the Commission on 14 November 2011 that they had jointly decided to launch negotiations on reviewing the Working Time Directive.

The main cross-sectoral social partners at EU level are BusinessEurope, CEEP (European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services) and UEAPME (The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) representing employers; and the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) representing workers.

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