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European Commission – Press Release

The European Commission defends the food scheme for the most deprived persons and calls on Member States to take their responsibilities

Brussels, 21 September 2011 – Following the numerous statements that have appeared in the media today, the European Commission wishes to reiterate its full commitment to maintaining the European food aid scheme for the most deprived persons (MDP). The Commission deeply regrets that the Council, due to the opposition of a small number of Member States, did not support, as of yesterday, the amendment to the legislation proposed by the Commission allowing the release of the whole of the envelope of EUR 500 million for the scheme for both 2012 and 2013. The food distribution scheme has been tried and tested for 25 years. It must continue to embody the spirity of solidarity that underlies the European project.

I have been fighting for more than a year to defend the food aid scheme for the most deprived persons and I will continue to do so. The European Union must remain a partner on which the food banks can count. We cannot be found wanting while the economic crisis makes this programme all the more necessary. It is still possible for us to resolve the situation, but this requires quick action. I call on the Member States that are opposed to our proposal to act responsibly and not to play with the fear, for millions of European households, of not having access to an adequate amount of food in 2012 and 2013,’ stated the European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development, Dacian Cioloş.

The European Commission has put all the legal solutions on the table. It is now a matter of taking a political decision. Since September 2010, the legal basis for maintaining a EUR 500 million food scheme in 2012 and 2013 has been waiting on a decision from Member States. Short of a political decision, the Commission has had no choice other than to reduce the 2012 plan to the available intervention stocks, which amount to EUR 113.5 million, in view of the judgment of the General Court of 13 April 2011 which deemed illegal the provisions of the 2009 programme concerning purchases of products on the market.

Furthermore, as it announced in its press release of last June on the next financial framework, the European Commission will put forward a proposal before the end of next year, aiming to extend the programme beyond 2013. It will propose, with effect from 2014, to incorporate the MDP scheme in the economic and social cohesion policy. This important change cannot take effect in 2012 and 2013, which makes it necessary for Member States to adopt a transitional programme.

The European Commission is fully engaged in discussions to extend the aid scheme for the most deprived persons. The Commission would be happy to hold further discussions with the Presidency of the Council of the EU to clear the way rapidly for a resumption of the food distribution programme under normal conditions from 2012.

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Contacts :

Roger Waite (+32 2 296 14 04)

Johan Reyniers (+32 2 295 67 28)

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