The Commission endeavors to maintain food aid for the neediest Europeans

The Commission recently proposed a compromise to resolve a continual bone of contention among EU Member States: the issue of food aid for Europeans most in need.


Presented on October 24 by European Commissioner for Social Affairs László Andor, the new regulation provides for the creation of a “Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived.” This fund is intended to replace the current Food Distribution programme for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community (MDP), established in 1987.


As part of its proposed multi-annual financial framework for the period running from 2014 to 2020, the Commission recommends allocating a budget of €2.5 billion for the Fund set to replace the MDP. The Commission anticipates that Member States requesting assistance from this new structure would be required to finance 15% of their national programs, while the Fund would cover the remaining 85%.


László Andor states that “the fund would give considerable flexibility to national authorities to plan and deliver the assistance in line with their national schemes.” Measures promoted by the new regulation call for closer cooperation with organizations providing aid to the least fortunate members of society, especially when such organizations engage in social reinsertion activities.


This compromise to create the fund comes after more than a year of incessant attacks on the MDP by six Member States, with Germany leading the charge. Extension of the MDP was contested on the grounds that funding was taken from the Common Agricultural Policy budget. Germany referred the matter to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that the program was no longer valid, mainly because small agricultural surpluses undermined the viability of such a system. Furthermore, the Berlin-led bloc reckoned that aid for the poor is a function of social policies, which are the exclusive prerogative of national governments.


On November 14, 2011, a compromise was reached in extremis to grant the Plan two additional years before its permanent termination in 2014. With the support of France, the militant group led by food banks and charitable organizations from various European countries temporarily prevailed over German demands, pending a more permanent solution.


 The European Commissioner for Social Affairs is thus expecting the European Council and Parliament to report favorably on this new proposal for a Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. In the preamble to this regulatory proposal, the Commission rapporteurs point out the considerable deterioration of the social situation in Europe. As a result of the crisis, 116 million European citizens face a direct threat of poverty or social exclusion. Another unsettling figure that calls for a rapid response from European leaders is the 25.4 million children facing acute material deprivation and inadequate access to quality healthcare.