Magazine article European Social Policy

Agriculture Council : Food Aid for Needy Scheme Virtually Buried

Magazine article European Social Policy

Agriculture Council : Food Aid for Needy Scheme Virtually Buried

Article excerpt

Despite ringing appeals at the Agriculture Council, on 20 October in Luxembourg, by numerous member states, the Polish EU Presidency and Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, the European Commission's proposal to maintain the food aid programme for the needy in 2012 and 2013, capped at 500 million per year, once again ran into opposition from Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, which make up a blocking minority. Although these countries gave no indication whatsoever of changing their mind, the Polish Presidency does not intend to give up yet.

In the absence of agreement on the Commission's new proposal, the EU programme of food aid for the needy, which provides support for some 18 million people, will shrink from 500 million in 2011 to 113.5 million next year and to virtually nothing in 2013. "We cannot drop this programme without a transitional period, the usual way of proceeding under the Common Agricultural Policy," explained Ciolos. The 20 member states that benefit from the programme have the right to plan for the medium term, he noted. "All the political, social, moral and administrative arguments" plead for maintaining the programme, added the commissioner. "I cannot agree to see the EU named and shamed," said Ciolos. Numerous member states were also scathing in their criticism.

"If we can show solidarity with banks, we have to show solidarity with the needy," exclaimed Polish Minister Marek Sawicki, whose country holds the EU Presidency. Bruno Le Maire regretted "an incomprehensible intransigence". The French minister added that, as a last resort, France would maintain credits for food banks by drawing on other national resources, but other countries like Greece, Spain and Italy may not have the resources to do so. Italy, after mentioning the European Parliament's wide support for this humanitarian programme, pointed out that the 500 million alocation was written into the EU budget. …

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