After more than six months of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached to lift the blockade on the European Program for the Disadvantaged (PEAD).
Last April, the European Commission was issued a ruling by the European Court of Justice, blocking 80% of funds allocated to the PEAD, putting a strain on the various humanitarian organizations that are primarily funded through this program. While the PEAD’s rules of procedures state that the supply should come from surplus EU stocks, in recent years, the agricultural surplus that feed them has almost disappeared, leading to a massive purchase of food on international markets. The six countries that filed the complaint1 called to question the legality of this process, arguing more generally that food aid is a social policy, which comes under the responsibility of States.
As charities are becoming more concerned as winter approaches, Germany’s change of position on 14th November, lifting the minority of the Council’s blockade, is a relief. However, Germany has only agreed to clear the PEAD for the next two years, and only if the CAP is no longer funding any social policy after 2014.
The respite is therefore short-term, because agricultural price volatility is expected to get worse in the coming years, posing a systemic risk on the food security of vulnerable populations.
Any questions to be answered by policy makers are now political: in a context of agricultural laissez-faire that will lead to increased price volatility and aggravated economic crises, isn’t the maintenance of an integrated food aid policy the most appropriate option, especially as it would engage people from different Member States around a unifying European project?
1 Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic