Following an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development last night a break-through has been reached to allow funding to be made available for the Most Deprived Person’s Programme (Food Aid for the Needy).

Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg last night, Liam Aylward MEP has welcomed the break-through in negotiations, which will allow food aid to be made available to the EU’s most needy citizens in 2012 and 2013, but has strongly criticised the actions of the European Commission and the European Council in not securing the future of this important Programme from 2014 onwards.

The solution reached allows the Deprived Persons Programme to continue in the short term and this is welcome for the organisations planning their aid delivery for January 2012, but in reality these organisations and Europe’s most needy citizens are being left in limbo while Member States focus on an ideological argument over competence, subsidiary and budget for this Programme.”

“In the overall scheme of the EU budget, the €500 million allocated to this Programme delivers real value for money and positively impacts upon the lives of the EU citizens that need it most. This Programme directly assists organisations and currently provides food aid for 13 million people suffering from poverty in 19 Member States and has distribution chains involving some 240 food banks and charities.”

The Programme which funds the provision of meals for the poorest people the EU countries has been running since 1987 and its continuation was in jeopardy due to a blocking minority of 6 Member States in the European Council – Germany, UK, Latvia, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

“The blocking minority in the European Council towards this Programme is unacceptable and irresponsible. Under no circumstances could the European Parliament let the opportunity for funding for the Programme in 2012 and 2013 pass by, however it is unfortunate that the European Council and European Commission’s actions meant that this deal was done at the eleventh hour and with no guarantees for 2014 onwards.”

“As Members of the Committee, which has communicated its strong support for supporting Europe’s most needy citizen on many occasions, we will take the intervening two years to ensure that we secure a budget and legal framework for the continuation of this Programme and hopefully the Member States blocking this Programme will see sense and move towards acting in the best interests of EU citizens.”