Extracts from the press conference by Mariann Fischer Boel, on the food programme for the most deprived persons in the EU
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 17/09/2008 First transmission: 17/09/2008
On 17 September 2008 the European Commission proposed to improve the current food distribution programme for the most deprived persons in the European Union by increasing the budget by two thirds to around 500 million euro from 2009 and extending the range of products which can be provided. Originally designed to provide surplus stocks of farm produce ("intervention stocks") to needy people, the scheme was amended in the mid-1990s to make it possible to supplement intervention stocks with market purchases in certain circumstances. Now that surplus stocks are extremely low and unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future, the scheme should allow market purchases on a permanent basis, to complement remaining intervention stocks. The choice of food would be for the Member States and food distribution plans would be established for three-year periods. Food would continue to be distributed in cooperation with charities and local social services. From the 2010/12 plan, the scheme would be co-financed (75 percent from the EU budget, and 85 percent in cohesion areas). From the 2013/15 plan, co-financing would be split 50/50, with the EU budget providing 75 percent in cohesion regions. The Commission believes an increase in the budget to be necessary because rising food prices are adversely affecting the food security of needy people and increasing the cost of providing food aid. In 2006, more than 13 million EU citizens benefited from this aid scheme. The revised programme should be available from 2010.
The scheme to distribute free food to the most deprived persons in the Community was launched as an emergency measure in the exceptionally cold winter of 1986/87, when surplus stocks of agricultural produce were given to Member State charities for distribution to people in need. The measure was subsequently formalised and based on intervention stocks. More recently, as agricultural surpluses have fallen, the programme has been supported by a direct financial contribution.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the Berlaymont building
||Arrival at the press room
||Mariann Fischer Boel, EC Member in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, saying (in ENGLISH) that the proposal on the table today would increase the budget for the scheme, it will widen the range of products which can be provided and it will make it easier to source food for the needy from the open market. This is very a concrete example of how the European Union can give real tangible help to some of its least fortunate people in our society.
||Mariann Fischer Boel saying (in ENGLISH) that the choice of food would be for the Member States and food distribution plans would be established for three-year periods.They will select suitable organisations to run the programme, so it is no Member State itselves who is running the programme organisations. Food would continue to be distributed in cooperation with charities and local social servicesAnd the Member States then have to ensure the supply of food to the organisations in charge of the programme. Of course, where it is possible, the food will come from intervention stocks. But mostly, it will be bought from the market through a public call for tender.
||Mariann Fischer Boel saying (in ENGLISH) that they have a small number of Member States who do not participate, such as Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Cyprus and Slovakia. There are a number of countries who have chosen no assistance, but this is in the present programme. She does'nt know if this will happen when they will change the scope of the programme.
||Mariann Fischer Boel saying (in ENGLISH) that she expects with the decrease of the prices they have actually seen on wheat, for bread, on rice, they should see a drop of the prices in the retail sector. They will keep on eye on this and she can assure us, that the competition authorities should not now remain with price increases. She thinks they have never been justified from the increase of the raw material, because it only contributes with less than 10% of the price of the final product.
||Exit from the press room