EU refuseniks refuse to keep up food aid for poor
(LUXEMBOURG) - As winter looms, six European states on Thursday refused to budge on a massive reduction in food aid delivering meals to 18 million of Europe's poorest.
At talks between EU farming ministers in Luxembourg, diplomats and officials said the six blocked a plan to keep aid in the form of surplus food stemming from agricultural budgets flowing in the form of cash payments under social goals.
Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden "showed pure selfishness, in a European Union where we need solidarity," said EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.
Without a breakthrough, as pushed for also by France and talks' chair Poland, the programme will cease to exist in 2013.
"If we show solidarity with the banks, we need to show solidarity with the poorest," said Polish minister Marek Sawicki.
He promised "not to close the file" and suggested Warsaw would raise it at a summit of EU leaders on Sunday and which recapitalising banks and bailing out over-spending governments was top of the agenda.
France's Bruno Le Maire said Paris would not give up on its "conviction" that the programme could be saved.
Currently, charities and food banks are incensed that a 480-million-euro budget to supply food to 18 million Europeans too poor to afford proper meals is to be cut to only 113.5 million from next year.
The scheme was set up in 1987 under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and came under threat in April when the EU Court of Justice, ruling on a request from Germany, said the programme could only use supplies from EU food stocks.
Stocks have fallen in recent years, forcing the use of EU money instead to buy supplies on the market to feed the hungry -- a move that has angered some EU nations.
The six refuseniks say national governments should pay for their poor, rather than EU funds.
Text and Picture Copyright 2011 AFP. All other Copyright 2011 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.