Help for the needy continues
On 15 December, Agriculture ministers agreed to extend the programme for distribution of food to the most deprived persons in the European Union, thereby securing the continued funding of the programme for the next two years.
The EU will now be able to extend its help to people in need with food worth 480 million euro a year in 2012 and 2013, by providing food to charitable organisations and local social services for distribution.
The revised programme enlarges the range of products provided: market purchases are made a regular source of supply for the scheme, to complement intervention stocks which previously constituted the core of the programme. It will be fully financed by the EU.
A ruling by the General Court in April annulled the provisions of the regulation allowing market purchases for the 2009 annual programme. These accounted for 90% of the resources allocated for the 2009 programme. The agreement reached by the Council will enable the European Union to continue to finance the food aid scheme until 2014, once the Regulation has been adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council early next year.
Without the agreement reached by the Council, the 2012 scheme would have been based exclusively on existing intervention stocks (just over 162 000 tonnes of cereals and fewer than 54 000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder), with member states getting less than a quarter of what they received in earlier years.
Rising food prices and the economic situation have increased the number of people depending on food aid. More than 18 million EU citizens are currently benefitting from the programme. An estimated 43 million in the EU are at risk of food poverty, meaning that they cannot afford a proper meal every second day.
Press Flash (pdf)
Possible change in funding for food aid (20.9.11)