The EU School Milk Scheme is intended to encourage consumption among children of healthy dairy products containing important vitamins and minerals. First established in 1977, the scheme not only has a nutritional character, but also an educational character and therefore helps contribute to the fight against obesity among children. The School Milk Scheme is there to provide quality products for children, to contribute to a healthy way of living and to nutritional education with better knowledge of products.
Under the School Milk Scheme, the EU subsidises the cost of different milk products and so the final budgetary allocation to each Member State only becomes apparent after the end of the school year when Member States confirm the volumes that have been distributed during the year.
The final figures for the 2013/14 school year (the most recent available) shows that just over 19 million children in 26 Member States benefited from the scheme with a contribution of nearly € 68 million from the EU budget and € 56 million from national or private funds.
Following an extensive consultation on increasing the efficiency of this scheme and the separate school fruit scheme, the Commission published a proposal bringing together these two currently separate school schemes in January 2014, accompanied by an impact assessment that evaluates alternative scenarios for the evolution of the policy on the basis of extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis
After political agreement on this single EU School Scheme for Milk, Fruit & Vegetables at the end of 2015, and approval by the European Parliament (8 March 2016) and Council (11 April 2016), the two individual schemes will merge into one from August 2017 (and the 2017/18 school year).
Evaluation of the Scheme
The School Milk Scheme was evaluated in 2013 by an external company at the request of the Commission.
The 2008 revision
The revision of the School Milk Scheme in 2008 took into account a number of requests and suggestions from the Member States, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, notably a request for simpler and clearer implementation rules.
With the review of the scheme a number of new, innovative and more attractive products have become eligible for the EU-subsidy.
Further to various types of drinking milk, children have access, among others, to certain fermented milk products with fruit or fruit juice, plain fermented milk products, such as yoghurt, buttermilk, kephir etc., and a wide range of cheeses.
The EU-subsidy, moreover, is the same for full-fat, medium-fat or low-fat products.
Member States have the possibility to choose the products they wish to distribute from the list of eligible products and they also have the possibility to apply stricter standards than those set out in the EU list.
Secondary schools have the same access to the scheme as nursery schools, other pre-school establishments and primary schools. Secondary schools were before 2008 often not participating in the School Milk Scheme as it was not obligatory for the Member States to include them.