Brussels, 14 November 2011
Commissioner Cioloş' Statement on the Aid for the needy scheme following the Agriculture Council on the 14 of November 2011
"I am extremely happy that Member States have resolved the problems that were blocking the Aid for the Needy scheme in 2012 and 2013. I have now asked my services to make the necessary changes in order to ensure the continuation of the scheme this winter. As we have shown in recent weeks, the European Commission wants to remain a committed partner for the charities involved in the scheme."
The European scheme for the most deprived is one of the main sources of food supply for European charities. For example, 51% of the products distributed in 2010 by the European Federation of Food Banks came through this scheme. Every year, more than 18 million people in the 20 participating Member States benefit from aid distributed within the framework of this programme.
Following the European Court ruling of 13/04/2011, which deemed that the arrangements in 2009 to provide food bought on the open market were illegal relative to the existing regulation, the 2012 plan had to be adopted with a much reduced budget. On June 10, 2011, the Commission was obliged to adopt a 2012 plan limited to the purchase of available public intervention stocks - a budget of just €113.5 million - less than one quarter of the previous annual schemes.
In order to overcome the legal difficulties raised by certain Member States, the European Commission revised its proposal again on October 3, 2011 (see IP/11/1148) COM (2011) 634 final]. It added a second legal base (Article 175(3) - social cohesion - to go with the existing agricultural legal base, and proposed to maintain funding exclusively from the EU budget.
On 17 September, 2010 (see IP/11/1141), the Commission had previously adapted its original proposal of 2008 in order to facilitate an agreement among Member States. The main changes related to permitting the purchase of food from the open market, aligning the regulation with the Treaty of Lisbon, and introducing elements of co-funding (25% and 10% - for cohesion countries) relative to the 50% and 25% in the original 2008 proposal (see IP/08/1335).