On 15th February, MEPs endorsed an agreement concluded between the States in November 2011, to maintain the European food aid program for the poor (PEAD) for the next two years.
As we stated in a previous article1, 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 various humanitarian associations that are mainly funded by this program.
While PEAD rules of procedures state that the supply should come from surplus EU stocks, in recent years, the agricultural surplus that supplies it has almost disappeared, leading to massive purchases of food on international markets. The six countries that filed the complaint2 are questioning the legality of this process, arguing more generally that food aid constitutes social policy, which should fall under State jurisdiction.
In response to concerns from charities, Germany finally agreed to a compromise: the PEAD will be maintained in 2012 and 2013 provided that the CAP no longer funds any social policy after 2014.
MEPs nevertheless wish to continue the fight in maintaining European food aid over the long term. Hopefully they will succeed: not only does the European Union need a unifying project in the current climate of austerity, but the high volatility of agricultural prices is likely to continue over the coming years, posing an increased risk to food security for vulnerable populations.
For momagri, this debate also raises the question of food security stocks in Europe and member states. In its project for a CAP alternative, presented at the Agricultural Show, momagri clearly addresses the issue.
1 Please see momagri’s article “European food aid: a short respite”, http://www.momagri.org/UK/a-look-at-the-news/European-food-aid-a-short-respite_1015.html
2 Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic