Other available languages: FR
Brussels, 30 January 2014
Frequently Asked Questions on the new School Schemes for Fruit, Vegetables and Milk
What are the current EU programmes?
There are currently two separate EU-funded school distribution programmes under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that specifically target children in schools: the School Milk Scheme (SMS), set up in 1977 and the School Fruit Scheme (SFS) set up in 2009/2010. Although there are differences in design and administration, the schemes basically aim at encouraging the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk as these have proven benefits in terms of public health. The School Fruit Scheme in particular was set up in the context of poor nutrition and increasing rates of child obesity, and on the basis that good habits established in childhood continue in later life.
Who benefits from these existing Schemes?
All EU Member States participate in the School Milk Scheme (Croatia and Greece joined the Scheme in the 2013/2014 school year). An estimated 20.3 million children across the EU benefited from the Scheme in 2011/2012, an 18 % increase in comparison with 2010/2011. Support is currently based on a payment of 18.5€/100kg of milk or milk equivalent. The precise figures on the use of funds are only available once final figures are submitted by Member States. (The figures for 2012/13 will be finalised shortly.)
Funding for School MILK Scheme aid per Member State in 2011/12 (in thousand €)
NB Greece and Croatia did not participate in the scheme in 2011/12;
Twenty-five Member States participate in the School Fruit Scheme in 2013/2014, which is currently 50%-75% co-funded (set to increase to 75%-90% for 2014/2015 school year), i.e. the EU contribution has to be matched by 50%-25% national funding. The UK, Sweden and Finland have chosen not to participate. Some 8.4 million children in 61 396 schools benefited from the scheme across the EU in 2012/2013 for a total budget of 90 million. This was an increase from 8.1 million children in 2011/12.
Allocation of School FRUIT Scheme aid per Member State for 2013/2014 (in thousand €)
NB Until now Finland, Sweden & UK have opted not to participate in the scheme;
Why do the 2 schemes need to be changed?
A Court of Auditors report* in 2011 recommended a number of changes in order to make the programmes more effective, including better coordination and consistency between the two schemes in order to improve management efficiency. So did the external evaluations.
Latest figures show that the problems of obesity in children is getting worse. Consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking milk is declining, worsened by modern consumption trends towards highly processed food (often with added sugar, fat, salt, etc.). In 2010, the WHO estimated that around 1 in 3 children between 6 and 9 in the EU are overweight or obese. As recently as 2008 it was 1 in 4!
What are the changes under the new scheme?
A guiding principle is simplification and better regulation, but also strengthening the educational aspects of the programmes.
The new scheme aims at adapting the rules for the current programmes, for example by reducing the administrative burden of having two similar, but different schemes.
As there is a clear downward trend in the consumption of fresh fruit & vegetables and drinking milk, the new scheme should focus on these products.
Funding should also cover more educational measures, promoting healthy eating and raising awareness of issues such as the variety of agricultural products, sustainability, environmental issues and food waste. This might also include visits to farms, for example.
In order to be more coherent, Member States will be required to present a joint national strategy with priorities and targets.
How much money will be available for the proposed single scheme in future?
Today's proposal is budget neutral, in that it does not change the 2014-2020 figures for the school schemes, i.e. an annual budget of €80 million for the milk and €150m for the fruit and vegetables. This is higher than the amounts in the previous budgetary period. The proposal would also allow Member States to transfer up to 15% of one allocation to the other.
How will the allocations among Member States be decided?
Future allocations will be based on the combination of objective criteria (number of 6-10-year-old children in a Member State) and existing use of funds. Final allocations will also depend on the amounts that Member States request - with the possibility of re-allocating amounts that are not taken up in Member States programmes.
Was the public consulted on the review of existing schemes?
A public consultation* was carried out from January to April 2013, seeking the public's opinion on the preliminary formulation of problems to tackle, objectives of the review and possible scenarios to reach the objective. An overwhelming majority of contributions agreed with the problems and challenges identified in the consultation paper. The importance of (educational) accompanying measures also came out very strongly, as these were considered as crucial or important by 95% of the respondents. EU financial backing was identified as a key driver for their success.
See also: IP/14/94