European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Proposed Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived
Brussels, 24 October 2012
The European Commission has today proposed to set up a new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived.
Europe committed itself in the 2020 Strategy to reduce the number of people in or at risk of poverty by at least 20 million.
But the current economic and social crisis has taken a terrible toll on the most vulnerable people in European society.
As a result, the situation is getting worse, not better.
This proposed new Fund would provide tangible help to Europe's most vulnerable people to overcome the problems they face in their daily lives and to integrate into society.
It would demonstrate Europe's solidarity with those who have been worst affected by the crisis.
It would also ensure continuity to follow-up the current Food for the Most Deprived programme after more than 20 years of existence.
This successful programme was originally based on the use of agricultural product surpluses in intervention stocks. With stocks running down as a result of successive reforms of the common agricultural policy, the programme will be discontinued at the end of 2013. Should the stocks re-emerge, however, their use to assist the most deprived would still be possible under the new Fund.
Specifically, the proposal aims to provide food to the most deprived people, and clothing and other essential goods (such as shoes, clothes and soap) to the homeless and to materially-deprived children.
There are currently 40 million people in Europe suffering from food deprivation and at least 4 million homeless. There are also 25.4 million children in or at risk of poverty in the EU. For example 5.7 million children can only afford second-hand clothes.
Children suffering from food and material deprivation do less well in school and are in worse health than their better-off peers. We must help them to break out of the vicious circle of poverty and deprivation.
The proposed Fund, which takes full account of feedback from those active in helping the most deprived, would help to address these challenges.
By helping deprived people to integrate into society, the proposal fully complements the European Social Fund that, for example, helps people improve their skills and training in order to get back into employment.
Implementation on the ground would be managed by Member States, usually through non-governmental organisations active in this field. The Commission would approve programmes prepared by Member States in line with their national situations and preferences.
Partner organisations would then be responsible for delivering the food to the most deprived persons and clothing and other essential goods to the homeless and to materially-deprived children.
The Commission has proposed that the Fund would receive two and a half billion euros from the EU's Budget over the period 2014 to 2020.
Today's proposal is therefore an important step forward in the fight against poverty and social exclusion in the EU.
I urge the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers to approve the proposed Fund, and the all-important budget to implement it, as soon as possible so that Europe is ready to demonstrate its renewed solidarity with the most deprived from 2014.