EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Europeans: Some Go Hungry, Most Backing The Environment…

  • June 30th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-emblems-two-001.jpgA central fund for feeding the poor of Europe has been cut back, because of a legal ruling on how it should operate … while a survey of the EU population finds that rich or poor, European people are highly concerned about Mother Earth.


The European Union’s “Food Distribution program for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community” (MDP) was started in 1987, to employ some of the then gigantic stocks of surplus agricultural products – an outcome of the subsidies on farming, of that era.

Now, a ruling of the European Court of Justice has resulted in a cut-back in the value of the scheme, from close to €500-million (A$677.3-million;, 29.6.11) each year, to only €130-million (A$176-million) for 2012.

According to the European Comission, the Court determined in April that food covered by the scheme had to come from public stocks resulting from EU “intervention” in industry   – as in the early years.

The available stocks these days, now that farm support has moved away from directly boosting levels of production, have come down to limited supplies of cereals and skimmed milk powder.

The Commission says it has proposed changes that will get around the problem and restore the accustomed level of support, but these have not been accepted by the Council, representing government of member states.

dacian-ciolos.jpgThe Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloș, said (26.6.11), that although the EU had, on average, amongst the world’s highest living standards, some people could not feed themselves adequately.

“An estimated 43 million people in the EU are at risk of food poverty, meaning that they cannot afford a proper meal every second day”, he said.

“The most deprived persons program supports the provision of food to these individuals or especially vulnerable families who find themselves in difficulties.

“In 2009 over 440 000 tonnes of products were distributed to 18 million people in 19 Member States.

“Charity organisations and NGOs count on the EU participation to help these people in need, and it is therefore crucial that a solution is found quickly to overcome the existing problems and to be able to use the available money.”

(Additional to the “home-grown” problem, Europe is these days playing host to a large new immigrant population, most needing on-arrival support from the aid organisations).


europe-land.jpgDespite the financial pinch as EU countries wrestle to get out of recession, 89% of Europeans think that more funding should be allocated to support protecting the environment.

That is one of the main findings of a large-scale survey carried out by the Environment Directorate General of the EU, using face-to-face interviews with some 26,825 people in different social categories, within the 27 member states – over four weeks, April /May.

The latest in an ongoing opinion testing program run by the European Commission, on many issues, it shows the environment is an important personal concern to more than 90% of respondents in every country.

The respondents associated protecting the environment with boosting economic growth; backed spending of public money on environmental projects; and in 81% of cases, got behind the idea of more legislation to protect the environment.

On the individual action front: Two-thirds said they had been separating garbage for recycling, over half were trying to cut back their use of energy, 40% were setting out to use fewer disposable goods, and increasing numbers were turning to the more environmentally friendly forms of transport.

eu-industry-scape.jpgA key concern is the pressure on natural resources, 80% wanting businesses  to use natural resources more efficiently.

The main environmental worries were:

The depletion of natural resources (chosen by 33%, up from 26% in 2007), water pollution 41%,  the growth of waste (33% up from 24%), and over-consumption (19% up from 11%).

Concern for biodiversity loss was relatively low, 22% concerned about loss of species and habitats.

These European respondents backed collaboration on defending the environment, with countries outside EU borders, and although a growing number, now 60%, feel reasonably well informed, they were also worried about information deficits, especially: wanting to know more about identifying environmentally friendly goods, the impacts of common chemicals on health (40%), use of Genetically Modified Organisms in farming, agricultural pollution from pesticides and fertilisers, and depletion of natural resources (27%).


EC, Brussels, “€ 113 million for the 2012 most deprived persons program”, IP/11/756,  20.6.11.

EC, Brussels, “Environment: a huge majority of EU citizens care deeply about the environment”, IP/11/753,20.6.11.


Dacian Ciolos – ec