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Disgraceful attack on aid to the most needy


29 Sep 2011


Global Europe
Agriculture & Food

During a debate with Council and Commission representatives on ways to save the EU free food distribution scheme, GUE/NGL MEP Gabi Zimmer said "it's not sympathy or cynicism that's called for now, it's a matter of looking after our fellow human beings."


An estimated 19 million disadvantaged people in the EU countries rely on the free food programme, originally established in 1987 to use stocks of surplus agricultural produce to feed the needy, which is now facing a drastic budget cut from €500 million this year to €113 million in 2012.


"Some countries want to deny people their basic rights by denying them the Food for Free programme. But millions of people are experiencing food poverty; millions can't afford to buy food," she said.


"Some 43 million people live in extreme poverty in the EU, and 20 million children are affected by food poverty. It is unacceptable that children are rummaging around in bins to find food" said Portuguese MEP Ilda Figueiredo before questioning the Commission on its intentions regarding the European Parliament resolution which calls for the Commission to come forward with an EU Framework Directive for the introduction of minimum income pitched at 60% of the median income of each EU member state.


"Over and above all these fine words, the European Union has two black marks against it," said French GUE/NGL MEP Patrick Le Hyaric. "First, we can't just idly sit back and see poverty grow while it is the result of the austerity measures being adopted by EU governments."


"Secondly," he said, "we are cutting food aid to the poorest while their numbers are increasing. This situation is unacceptable when we consider that several billion Euros were found to bail out the banks."

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20   

David Lundy +32 485 50 58 12

European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group