The EU's food distribution programme for the most deprived persons in the Union was an important, CAP-funded source of provisions for organisations working in direct contact with the least fortunate people of our society.
The EU's "Food Distribution programme for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community" (MDP) had been in place since December 1987, when the Council adopted the rules for releasing public intervention stocks of agricultural products to Member States wishing to use them as food aid for the most deprived persons of the Community.
Over the years, the scheme became an important source of provisions for organisations working in direct contact with the least fortunate people of our society. In 2010, over 18 million people benefited from the scheme.
Who are the EU's most deprived persons?
The allocation of resources between Member States was based on population data and statistics on poverty provided by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The indicator Eurostat uses to measure income poverty is the "at risk of poverty rate". This represents the share of people with an income below 60 % of the national "equivalised median income".
To ensure continuity of supply, in the mid-1990s the MDP was modified to make it possible to supplement intervention stocks with market purchases. This was not intended as a long term solution but one that could be called upon when there were insufficient supplies of certain products. The basis of the programme remained intervention, "until the stocks have been run down to a normal level".
Successive reforms of the CAP have led to a much more market-oriented system, resulting in far lower intervention stocks. Recognising that this could become a problem for the MDP, in 2008 the Commission published a proposal that included measures to make it easier to access products from the open market. A further, revised proposal (also taking into account the Treaty of Lisbon) followed in September 2010.
However, both proposals became deadlocked in the Council, with opposition from 6 Member States. In a fresh effort to overcome the deadlock in the Council of Ministers and maintain the food distribution programme at its then current level, on 3 October 2011 the European Commission tabled a second amended proposal.
Following intensive intergovernmental and inter-institutional negotiations, the Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement for the continuation of the scheme up to 2013.
In 2014 the MDP was replaced by the newly established Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD). Under the FEAD the assistance available for the most deprived persons of the Union includes, besides food aid, the supply of basic materials (e.g. clothing) and social inclusion as well.
Last legal basis of the MDP
- Regulation (EU) No 121/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2012 amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 807/2010 of 14 September 2010 laying down detailed rules for the supply of food from intervention stocks for the benefit of the most deprived persons in the Union
The MDP was funded by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF). Participation in the programme was voluntary for Member States.
The budget of the programme for the supply of food for the most deprived persons in the European Union increased from slightly less than € 100 million in 1987 to € 500 million in 2009 onwards.
Following a Court ruling on 13 April 2011 that any food covered by the programme could only be sourced from public intervention stocks (and not from the open market), the commitment for 2012 was limited to just € 113 million - equivalent to the remaining volumes of public stocks.
Thanks to the entry into force of the new legal frame of the scheme, the Commission amended the 2012 annual distribution plan, increasing to € 500 million the funds for the most deprived in 2012.
The annual distribution plan for 2013 was adopted by the Commission on 6 November 2012. This was the last annual plan funded from the CAP.
Participation in the programme was voluntary; in 2013 nineteen Member States were taking part.