Countries cutting off Europe’s poor

Six member States refuse to allow funds from the Common Agricultural Policy to be used as food aid to the poor. On 1 January 2012, the budget for assistance to 18 million Europeans may drop from 480 to 113.5 million euros. It's a possibility that revolts La Libre Belgique.

Published on 21 September 2011 at 14:04
A volunteer prepares the meals to give to the poor at the canteen run by "Caritas" in Setubal (Portugal), May 2011.

Their position is as appalling as it is incomprehensible. Unbearable, really. Six member states of the Union - Germany, UK, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden, all rich and mostly eurosceptic - are still blocking, through legal wrangling and fallacious arguments, the providing of some 480 million euros intended to feed the poorest Europeans [the final decision has been deferred to the next meeting of EU ministers in late October].

How to understand that, in the midst of the euro crisis, while poverty is increasing throughout the Old Continent, powerful countries can undermine a policy that has proven itself over a quarter century? European Program of Food Aid to the most Deprived (PEAD) distributes 440,000 tons of food every year in twenty states - with Poland, Italy and France in the lead. It's an opportunity to recall that, contrary to popular belief, Europe is also able to worry about the welfare of its people.

But who today wants to feel European in a union where Angela Merkel, David Cameron and others are considering putting millions of hungry people on a diet? And this because the “legal basis”, which could be changed without much difficulty, is inadequate - and so each will just have to cope with its poor?

The message is disastrous for the image of the European Union and the credibility of its leaders' rhetoric. Solidarity, a principle at the foundation of European construction, must remain one of its most steadfast bases in the face of the every-man-for-himself assaults of the states. Outside these six countries, such a Europe inspires no one.

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Translated from the French by Anton Baer

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