Expatica news

Support for EUR billion farm aid to Africa growing

1 October 2008

BRUSSELS — Support for the idea of transferring EUR 1 billion (USD 1.43 billion) out of the European Union’s farming budget to support poor farmers in Africa is growing, the head of the EU’s executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, said Wednesday.

It is "crucial that EU member states and the European Parliament support the proposal to create a Food Facility of EUR 1 billion to support agricultural production… This approach won unanimous approval in the UN and the World Bank, (and) I am delighted to have the support of the French presidency," Barroso said.

Speaking after a meeting with his counterpart from the African Union, Jean Ping, Barroso said, "925 million human beings are suffering from hunger in the world, most of them in Africa."

Ping also stressed his support for the proposal, saying that the issue is a "matter of urgency" because "there are already hunger riots in Africa."

Over one third of the EU’s budget is spent on support to its farmers, with annual spending currently at around EUR 43 billion.

But with the recent surge in world food prices, the EU has found itself holding more support money than farmers have asked for.

The commission has therefore suggested transferring EUR 1 billion out of surplus funds in order to boost agricultural production in the world’s poorest regions, rather than sharing the surplus money out among the EU states that paid it in the first place.

Not all states have come out in favour of the deal, making the support of the French government, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, crucial for the realization of the plan.

On the 17th of September the commission proposed boosting the food aid it pays to poor EU citizens by some 70 percent to EUR 500 million.

[dpa / Expatica]