This is from Swedish Radio:
Swedish Employment Minister Sven-Otto Littorin - whose country currently is at the EU helm - will next week sit down for a talk with the new chairman of the European Parliament's employment committee (most likely an MEP from the EP's socialist bloc). The objective is to revive the negotiations over the EU's Working Time Directive. As we reported on extensively as the story line unfolded, the negotiations broke down in April following a disagreement between the EP and the Council over the right of British and other European workers to opt out of the EU's maximum 48 hour working week, entailed in the Directive.
We've estimated that the Working Time Directive as it currently applies in the UK is already costing the economy between £3.5 billion and £3.9 - a cost that could rise to between £9.2 billion and £11.9 billion should the opt-out be scrapped.
The Swedes, alongside several other European countries, are primarily interested in changing the rules in the WTD which define all time spent on-call as active working time - a rule that has messed up rota systems in health care sectors right across Europe, and cost taxpayers billions (the rules were introduced following two absolutely ludacrious rulings by the ECJ).
As several member states are using the opt-out primarily to get around the on-call time rules, we fear a future deal between ministers and MEPs, in which the European Parliament agrees to revise the on-call time provisions, in return for removing the opt-out altogether. Critically, the opt-out has been an obsession for the socialists in the EP for some time, and a surprising number of MEPs in the EPP are also in favour of seeing it go.
In such a horse-trading scenario, the UK could suddenly find itself terribly isolated. Is anyone in Whitehall paying attention?