Britain, Germany favour slash in food aid to Europe's hungry

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

EU ministers will decide Tuesday whether to drastically cut food aid for 13 million citizens too poor to afford proper meals, a move notably favoured by Britain and Germany.

Should farm ministers from the European Union meeting in Brussels fail to row back against a planned cut from 480 million euros to 113.5 million in 2012 food aid for the needy, "next month it will be too late", a diplomat who asked not to be identified told AFP.

In July, the European Parliament pleaded with the EU to avoid slashing aid to 240 food banks and charities that help feed 13 million people in 19 of the bloc's 27 member states.

"Halting an existing and functioning aid scheme abruptly without prior notice or preparation has a major impact on the most vulnerable EU citizens," the parliament said in a resolution adopted with an overwelming 548-52 majority.

The scheme to deliver food to the most deprived dates back to 1987 under the common agricultural policy (CAP). It came under threat after the EU Court of Justice ruled in April that the programme could only use food from intervention stocks and could not use EU money to buy supplies on the market.

Currently, several EU nations are blocking a bid to maintain the food to the needy programme within the union's budget.

A European diplomat said Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden had opposed moves to find an interim solution enabling continued delivery of the aid within a formula acceptable to the court.

"We have nothing against helping the needy but that is a part of social policy, which is the responsibility of each member state," said a diplomat.

© 2011 AFP

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