A dispute over aid to Europe’s poorest citizens threatens to spark a major food crisis, France has warned. The EU programme currently provides hand outs to at least 13 million poverty-hit Europeans at centres like this in Brussels. But that could be axed after a group of six countries, including Germany and Britain, threatened to pull the plug on a 500-million-euro yearly scheme. Volunteers at charity Resto du Coeur say a cut to the funding would be devastating.
‘‘If we don’t have the basics such as flour, milk, pasta, it’s going to be difficult. We going to spend a lot of time and energy trying to find them,’‘ Simone Galand from Resto du Coeur in Brussels said.
The Kitchen at Resto du Coeur is able to serve up to 600 meals a day, if needed. Daniel lived rough for 15 years. Now a volunteer, he admits they already sometimes have to ration.
‘‘In certain cases, where there’s even a small shortfall, we’ll have to tell people, for example a large family, we only able to give you a loaf of bread or one or two litres of milk,’‘ he said.
Set up in 1987, the aid scheme for the EU’s most deprived citizens was originally designed to divert the bloc’s huge food mountains. But with surpluses drying up, countries like the UK insist food welfare programmes should be the domain of national governments.
UK Environment minister Jim Paice said: ‘’
“Social policy is a matter of competence for member states and that is where we believe it should belong.”
The EU’s Polish presidency has said it will try to break the deadlock between food ministers next month. For now, things remain in limbo.