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Europe excludes the poor

(This is the long version of an article published in Ouest-France on June 22)

Coluche can turn in his grave. The funds allowing Restos du Coeur, Food Banks and other charities to benefit from European surpluses will be, if not eliminated, at least severely cut.

Of how many ? European funding will only reach 2012 million euros in 113 for all of Europe, compared to 500 million previously. France will benefit from only 15 million. And for 2013, that could be 0. The cut is severe.

Whose fault is it ? Accused, the European Commission defends itself by explaining that it is only applying a judgment of the Court of the European Union. It calls into question certain Member States who are reluctant to change the regulations.

Why this mess? This is the result of the (good) management of the CAP, the Common Agricultural Policy. Reform after reform, community stocks of butter, milk, oil… have melted away. And to continue to supply food banks, Brussels is forced to buy on the market. Which is in violation of the CAP regulations.

Who is the selfish club. Germany and Sweden, smelling the good move, obtained a judgment of the court in their favor. Supported by 4 other States (Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom, Czech Republic), the two thieves are also blocking any attempt at reform. Matter of principle, they point out. The CAP is not there to provide assistance to the poor. And the policy of assistance to the poor belongs to the States, not to Europe. Question of budget too and very political too. The club of the Six Egoists is delighted to play a bad trick on the Common Agricultural Policy in this way. An unworthy position...


A long-awaited debate. The Commission's announcement reawakened the debate. The French MEPs from the different groups all took more or less the same positions. For Estelle Grellier, “ Using the pretext of technical and legal difficulties – even though the Commission has not appealed against the court decision invoked! -to dismantle this food aid scheme for the most deprived is disastrous for the populations concerned, but also for the credibility and image of Europe ". Same feeling with Rachida Dati (UMP) who “ calls on the President of the European Commission to explain to the millions of beneficiaries of this aid why a legal problem will deprive them of vital resources, starting next year. “And let go:” As on other cohesion issues, the Commission is disconnected from the suffering of Europeans and their concerns! When the Commission wants, it can... even discourage citizens from believing in Europe! ". Dany Cohn-Bendit (Greens) accuses the Commission of " let the situation rot for lack of political ambition. Food aid for the poorest should not be the subject of bargaining between France and Germany in the context of discussions on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. » And to add: This program has proven effective over the past 25 years, helping the most vulnerable populations. Putting an end to it without further ado would amount to renouncing the principle of solidarity which is the basis of the European project. A transitional solution must absolutely be put in place for 2012 and 2013, while waiting for an agreement to be found to safeguard this program in future years.

On the agenda. Italy, supported by ten Member States, including France, has decided to put its feet in the dish and the subject on the agenda of the next Council of Agriculture Ministers, on 27 June.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).