Brussels, 4 October 2010
Europe approves € 500 million of Food Aid for the Needy for 2011
Food aid plans submitted by Member States for the 2011 Aid for the Needy Scheme were voted in the Single CMO Management Committee. Next year 20 Member States will use the scheme – with the Czech Republic participating for the first time. Originally designed to provide surplus stocks of farm produce ('intervention stocks') to needy people, the scheme was amended in the mid-1990s to make it possible to supplement intervention stocks with market purchases in certain circumstances. However, this year existing intervention stocks (cereals, milk powder, limited quantities of butter) cover most of the needs for the 2011 plan, so only limited recourse to market purchases is necessary. The allocated budget of 500 million Euros is the same as for the 2009 and 2010 plans. The scheme for 2011 is not related to the recent adapted proposal to adjust the scheme in future [see IP/10/1141]. The 2011 plan will now be adopted by the Commission in the near future.
Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said of the programme: "The Aid for the Needy Scheme is a further sign that the Common Agriculture Policy is not just for farmers, but for all EU citizens. Last year, an estimated 13 million people benefited from the various national programmes."
A plan for the free distribution of food to the neediest people in the Community was launched as an urgent measure during the harsh winter of 1986/1987 when surpluses of agricultural products were given to charities in the Member States for distribution to those who needed them. This measure has since become a permanent feature and is based on the use of intervention stocks. The scheme has allowed Member States to release public stocks of surplus food for use as food aid. However, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which began in the early 1990s and was aimed at achieving major cuts in Community intervention stocks, has been one of the factors in allowing purchases to be made on the market in certain circumstances. This year, though, intervention stocks are sufficient to enable much of the plan to be covered and relatively little use needs to be made of the option to buy on the market. The sustainable reduction in intervention stocks which has been made has nevertheless led to proposals for reform of the aid programme to adapt it to developments in the CAP and enable it to help those most in need more effectively.
The participation of the Member States in the programme is voluntary, with the Commission adopting a new plan each year. Aid is typically provided to a wide range of people living in poverty, including families in difficulties, elderly people with insufficient means, the homeless, the disabled, children at risk, the working poor, migrant workers and asylum seekers, with Member States working with charities and/or local social services.
Member States wishing to participate in the programme notify the Commission at the beginning of each year and then inform it of their needs for the specific products. They must also provide it with a report on the implementation of the programme.
Although the EU has, on average, some of the highest living standards in the world, some people are unable to adequately feed themselves. According to the most recent estimates, on average 17% of the EU population live at or below the poverty line and therefore face food poverty meaning, for example, that they are unable to have one balanced meal every two days.
Quantity of each type of product to be taken out of Community intervention stocks for distribution in the Member States under the 2011 plan
Resources placed at the disposal of the Member States under the 2011 plan