Food Aid/social Policy : Commission Unveils Revised Fund to Help the Most Deprived

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The European Commission has launched plans for the continuation of an EU fund for providing food and essentials to the most deprived citizens post-2013, financed from social rather than agricultural spending, in an attempt to appease a group of countries hostile to the previous scheme. Under the plans, launched on October 24, the Commission claims member states would have considerable freedom to choose what materials (eg clothes) they provide to support deprived citizens based on local needs. To comply with social funding objectives, the new fund would also oblige partner organisations - responsible for delivering the food or goods - to take action to improve the social integration of these citizens. Under Commission plans for the EU's future long-term budget from 2014 to 2020, the new scheme would be shifted from Heading 2 (agriculture) to Heading 1 (social policy) funded to the tune of 2.5 billion over the period. Member states would be responsible for 15% of the cost of their programmes, with the remaining 85% coming from the Community budget.

The Commission made the funding shift after a group of countries - Germany, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Czech Republic - voiced opposition to the continuation of the scheme post-2013. As a social policy, food aid should be financed at national level, the group of mainly net contributors has said. All of these countries, barring the Czech Republic, preferred to opt out of the current programme. …