Against the background of the European Commission’s own careful estimates of 80 million people in the EU at risk of poverty, the Commission has also stated that 43 million people in the EU are specifically at risk of food poverty - a number quickly rising due to the economic and financial crisis and sharp increases in food prices in virtually all EU Member States. The Food Aid Distribution scheme, which has been running for many years and helps the “Most Deprived People” in the EU, has been recently threatened with discontinuation. With new continuity perspectives on the horizon, the scheme has only been allocated €500 million for 2013.
The allocation of €500 million of EU funds for the Food for the Most Deprived programme in 2013 was voted through the Single Common Market Organisation (CMO) Management Committee. It is expected that more than 18 million people in 19 EU Member States (MS) will benefit from this fund. As 2013 will be the last year that the scheme will run in this form and funded from the CAP, new proposals for a broader, more flexible scheme, more closely linked to social cohesion policy are due to be presented later this month (23 October) under the responsibility of EU Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor.
As announced in its Press Release, the Commission has proposed to reserve a budget of €2.5bn for the 7 year period for a successor to this scheme to help with food provision for the most deprived in its Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 budget proposal. Aimed to support the EU’s poverty reduction targets’ achievement, the budget allocation is anticipated to be allocated under social-cohesion policy (heading 1) rather than the CAP.
In place since 1987, the EU’s “Food Distribution programme for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community” is meant to provide aid to the most deprived people in the EU MS - sourced from public intervention stocks of agricultural products in surplus (butter, milk, grains).
Over the years, with public intervention stocks depleting, the products were bought from regular agricultural markets, which has raised criticism of the scheme. As a result the scheme was finally revised in 2012 (after a long battle in Council), including the introduction of nutritional considerations measures to make it easier to access products from the open market – to the extent that canned fruit & vegetables, tinned beef and canned tuna can now be included.
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