More than 8 million children and 54.000 schools benefited from the School Fruit Scheme (SFS) in 2010/11, according to a new report on the implementation of the EU scheme.
Although the scheme only started in the autumn of 2009, initial results show that it has been successfully embedded in Member States and that its efficiency is increasing. Of the 27 Member States, only Finland, Sweden and the UK have chosen not to implement it.
Even though it is too early to judge the Scheme's long-term impact, the short-term results provided by most of the national and regional evaluations indicate that it has led to an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed by children and the report concludes that, if the Scheme is given long-term continuity, it can be seen as an appropriate tool to exercise positive influence on children's eating habits.
As part of the CAP reform package the Commission proposed to raise the budget to €150m (from €90m) and increase the rate of EU co-financing, which has been seen as an obstacle to a higher uptake of funds.
For the future, with the Court of Auditors having also commented on the scheme in its current form, the Commission has already launched an impact assessment to analyse the SFS and the separate School Milk Scheme to improve synergies between the two schemes and examine different options for how they should develop in the future, including a possibility of a new wider scheme.
Today's report will now be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament.