No commitment secured by EU leaders on continuing Programme post 2013

EU Leaders must not play politics with the scheme that provides food aid for Europe’s poorest citizens was Liam Aylward’s message in the European Parliament yesterday during a debate on the continuation of the Food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union for 2012 and 2013.

Reiterating his stance on this issue the Ireland East MEP, who was the ALDE co-negotiator on this Report criticised EU Leaders for not committing to the Programme beyond 2013.

“When I spoke on this issue last year, I urged EU leaders to break up their blocking minority of 6 Member States against the continuation of this Programme and to use little bit of common sense, if not some compassion in relation to the continuation of food aid at a time when the economic situation is putting increasing numbers under pressure.”

The Programme which funds the provision of meals for the poorest people in 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. A break-through was reached in December when it was agreed to continue the Programme for 2012 and 2013 with no commitment for 2014 onwards.

“I am pleased that the scheme has been agreed for two further years but no guarantees have been put in place for 2014 onwards. At present 13 million people suffering from poverty in 19 Member States rely on this scheme for food and if anything the numbers requiring food aid will increase given the current economic situation. This scheme must be continued in a format that will ensure that those at risk of food poverty have access to food.”

“I understand that there are those that object on the basis of budget allocation, subsidiary and a perceived overlap with national competence. This is fine rhetoric, but 43 million people in the EU are at risk of food poverty and 13 million people rely on this Programme for food. We have a scheme in place that provides for these people and for €500 million it represents value for money in terms of delivering actual results. EU leader must ensure it is continued”

The Report on the continuation of the Food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union for 2012 and 2013 will be voted in the European Parliament today.