On 24 October, the Commission presented a proposal for regulation on a Fund for European Aid for the most deprived. The Fund aims at financing provision of food to the most deprived persons, basic goods to the materially-deprived children and homeless people as well as activities that strengthen their social inclusion.
In an attempt to make the use of the Fund more flexible and thus tailored to local needs, the Commission proposes that the provision of the Aid can be entrusted to partner organizations (e.g. non-governmental organizations) chosen by the Member States.
€2.5 billion were foreseen to finance the Fund under the Cohesion Policy for the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. Member States would finance 15% of the costs of their national programmes, with the remaining 85% coming from the Fund.
Commissioner László Andor stated that he “hoped Member States and the European Parliament would adopt this proposal, and the accompanying budget, swiftly so that the support reaches those in need without delay”.
Acknowledging the growing feeling that the EU is responsible for increased poverty and social exclusion through fiscal constraint pushed on Member States, the Commission seems determined to make clear that the EU is undertaking action to alleviate the consequences of the crisis on vulnerable people’s lives. Let’s hope the Member States will make the most of the opportunities offered by the EU and not take in hostage this initiative when negotiating over the MFF.
Finally, it is worth noting the urgent need to replace the EU's Food Distribution programme for the Most Deprived People (MDP) that was set up in 1987 to make use of the agricultural policy surpluses. As a result of the depletion of the intervention stocks, the MDP will be ended in 2013. In any case, the new Fund the Commission proposes will be arriving late in a context of acute social crisis.