distribution of food products to deprived persons|
Amended Commission proposal for a Regulation of
the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulations
(EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards distribution
of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union ((COM(2010)486,
Council Document 13435/10)
1. We recommend that the House of Lords should
issue the reasoned opinion set out below to the effect that the
proposed Regulation does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity;
and should send it to the Presidents of the European Parliament,
the Council and the Commission, in accordance with the provisions
of the EU Treaties.
2. This report does not complete our scrutiny
of this proposal.
3. This report was prepared by the Agriculture,
Fisheries and Environment Sub-Committee whose members are listed
in Appendix 1.
4. Since 1987,
excess stocks of food purchased into public stores under the intervention
mechanisms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been made
available to the most deprived persons in the Union. In 2008,
more than 13 million people benefited from the scheme.
Following reform of the CAP, and the consequent reduction in intervention
stocks, the programme has relied increasingly on market purchases
for the provision of this food. An internet-based public consultation
has expressed strong support for the continuation of an EU food
aid programme and the European Parliament has stressed the fundamental
nature of the right to food.
Member State participation in the scheme is voluntary, and the
UK has not participated in it since the mid-1990s.
5. While leaving unchanged the voluntary nature
of Member State participation in the scheme, the Commission's
- formalise the provision for food under the scheme
to be sourced not just from intervention stocks but also from
the open market;
- widen the range of goods that can be purchased
in order to take into account nutritional balance and suitability
for distribution, allowing Member States to give preference to
food products of Union origin;
- establish three-year programmes instead of the
current annual rounds in order to allow longer-term planning by
Member States and charities;
- introduce co-financing by participating Member
States at a minimum of 25% (10% for cohesion countries) of eligible
costs with an annual ceiling of 500m for co-financing from
the EU budget; and
- enhance reporting obligations, both for participating
countries and for the Commission.
6. The Commission justifies its action on the
- the programme addresses problems of hunger, deprivation,
poverty and social exclusion in the spirit of the Treaty, which
states that the Union's aim is to "promote the well-being
of its peoples" and "promote [...] solidarity among
Member States" (Article 3, TEU);
- the programme contributes to meeting the CAP's
objectives of stabilising markets and ensuring that supplies reach
consumers at reasonable prices;
- social support provided by Member State authorities
rarely focuses on access to food; and
- the programme can trigger Member State action,
and help charities and civil society to develop their own initiatives
to ensure the right of all EU citizens to food.
7. Even to the extent that addressing problems
of hunger, deprivation, poverty and social exclusion can be considered
to be in the spirit of the Treaties, it is nevertheless the case
that the spirit of the Treaties can be respected without Union
action, and it can be promoted by the Union without following
the legislative route. Inequalities between Member States are
dealt with through EU cohesion policy. Member States are capable
of acting individually to address the issues highlighted; and
indeed confusion could arise from the parallel operation in a
Member State of a national system and the EU scheme.
8. The extent to which purchases from the market
contribute to the objectives of the CAP is questionable, being
dependent on numerous factors, including: the quantity of food
purchased from the market; any reduction in purchases by deprived
persons who become eligible for the scheme; and the price paid.
In any event, there is no reason why the Union is better placed
to organise the purchase of products from the market than Member
9. The failure of Member States to act is not
in itself a reason for the Union to act. The voluntary nature
of the scheme suggests also that there is no demonstrable need
for action, particularly at the Union level. All Member States
do, of course, retain a stake in the proposal because it is part-financed
from the Union budget.
10. In conclusion, there appears to be no compelling
argument to suggest that the Union is better placed than Member
States to ensure a food supply to its most deprived citizens.
1 Council Regulation (EEC) No 3730/87 Back
COM(2010)486 p.2 Back
Ibid p.3 Back
SEC(2008)2437 p.3 Back