EU food distribution scheme does not comply with EU Law warns Lords Committee

11 November 2011

The House of Lords EU Committee has today restated its objection to a European Commission proposal to amend a scheme which distributes food to deprived people in Europe. The second objection relates to a revised proposal which the Commission has brought forward in the light of a judgment earlier this year by the European Court of Justice.

The Committee believes that its reason for objecting to the 2010 version of the proposal, that the purchase of food from the market and its distribution to deprived people should be decided on at a local rather than EU level, still stands. The Committee says that the proposed scheme does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity, which means that legislation should be made at the lowest appropriate level - in this case, by each country. 

Lord Carter of Coles, Chair of the Lords Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment EU Sub-Committee, which examined the latest proposal from the Commission and also the version proposed in 2010, said:

"When we looked at the proposal which the Commission made in 2010, we concluded that the EU is no better placed to organise food distribution than Member States themselves. We firmly believe that this is still the case, and in carrying forward the same approach the latest proposal still fails to respect the 'subsidiarity' principle.

"Twenty Member States, including some of the richest, benefit from this scheme. We accept the case to dispose in this way of excess food stocks resulting from flaws of the Common Agricultural Policy. It is far from acceptable, though, that the EU should be developing a distinct EU-financed policy to source food aid from the market.

"Responsibility for this kind of activity should rest with national, regional or local governments, who are perfectly capable of addressing their own countries’ issues of hunger, deprivation, poverty and social exclusion. We also see a risk that this scheme could make it more bureaucratic and confusing to provide food aid to our society's most vulnerable people, and this could disadvantage those the scheme is intending to help."

A debate will be held on the floor of the House on Monday 28 November 2011. If the House agrees with the report, it will send a "reasoned opinion" to the European Commission and other EU institutions, to signal its concern.

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