From 1 August 2017, the two current separate school schemes - the School Fruit and vegetables Scheme and the School Milk Scheme - will be brought under a single legal framework. The new rules aim at greater efficiency, more focused support and an enhanced educational dimension.
After a political agreement was reached between the Institutions in December 2015, the European Parliament (8 March 2016) and the Council (11 April 2016) adopted in first reading the Regulation on the new School Scheme for Milk, Fruit and Vegetables.
The Regulation was signed by the President of the European Parliament and by the President of the Council on 11 May and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24 May (Regulation EU No 2016/791). It shall apply from 1 August 2017.
Main points of the new Scheme:
The School Scheme for Milk, Fruit and Vegetables aims at durably increasing the share of these products in the diet of children, when their eating habits are being formed. It contributes to the Common Agricultural Policy objectives of stabilising markets and ensuring the availability of both current and future supplies, and to the public health objectives of shaping healthy eating habits.
As regard the products to be distributed to schoolchildren:
- Priority shall be given to fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking milk. Member States may, in addition, distribute processed fruit and vegetables such as juices or soups, and milk products such as yogurt and cheese, to ensure a varied diet and address particular nutritional needs. Certain other milk products, such as milk-based drinks, may be allowed but Union aid will only be granted to the milk component.
- Member States may include other agricultural products, such as olives and olive oil and honey, in thematic educational measures.
- Member States' choice of products shall be based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability with priority to EU products. Member States may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.
- In line with the objective of healthy eating habits, products shall contain no sweeteners and artificial flavour enhancers, and should aim to have no added sugar, salt, or fat (even if products with only limited quantities may be allowed after authorisation by the competent national health authorities).
As regard the implementation of the Scheme:
- A common legal framework will reduce the administrative and organisational burden and simplify obligations: Member States will draw up only one strategy, covering a period of 6 years, and submit only one annual request for aid; synergies will be possible as regards the required monitoring and evaluation reports.
- The educational dimension is reinforced for a more effective achievement of the Scheme's objectives. Member States shall accompany the distribution of products with educational measures in order to reconnect children to agriculture. Such measures may also concern related issues such as healthy eating habits, local food chains, organic farming, sustainable production, food waste.
As regards financial provisions:
- The total EU budget is of € 250 million per school year, of which € 150 million for fruit and vegetables and € 100 million for milk. Allocations are kept separate to take into account differences between products and their supply chains, with built-in flexibility as Member States may transfer up to 20% (25% in duly justified cases) of the allocation from one sector to the other.
A Council Regulation was adopted in parallel, Regulation (EU) No 2016/795, to fix Union aid under the scheme and the annual indicative allocations for the Member States.
The Commission adopted on 3 November 2016 a delegated act and an implementing act on the necessary detailed, technical aspects for the application of the new Scheme as from 1 August 2017. The Commission duly consulted experts, Member States and other interested parties and stakeholders in the preparation of these acts, in the spirit of better regulation. The regulations are envisaged to be published and enter into force in January 2017.
>> Read the Press release on the adoption of the new school scheme
>> Read the memo on the new school scheme