Defense of the Food Program meets unanimously in the Assembly of the Republic

The report presented by the Algarve Socialist deputy Miguel Freitas, who appeals to the Assembly of the Republic to defend […]

The report presented by the Algarve socialist deputy Miguel Freitas, who calls on the Assembly of the Republic to make the uncompromising defense of the maintenance of the Community Program for Food Aid to the Needy (PCAAC), was unanimously approved this Tuesday, giving a strong signal to European institutions on the need for the continuity of that Programme, which makes it possible to help, every year, around 400 thousand Portuguese.

There is currently a blocking minority in the European Council (taken over in September by Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic) which argues that this type of aid is a competence of the Member States.

If the position does not change, as of January, the Program's budget will be reduced by two-thirds, from 500 million to 113 million euros, which will lead to Portugal having a cut from 40 million euros to 4,5 million of euros.

The position of the Parliament was also transmitted this Tuesday to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos, at a hearing on the Common Agricultural Policy held in São Bento.

“The measure defended by the minority of the seven Member States would result in a drastic reduction in the number of beneficiaries of the Community Programme, which, in 2010 alone, supported more than 18 million European citizens, and would put food aid in Portugal into question”, mentioned, in his speech, the socialist Miguel Freitas.

In response, the Agriculture Commissioner acknowledged that, although the matter is not scheduled for the European Council on the 14th of November, there is an opening of the current Polish presidency to remove the blocking minority and ensure the maintenance of the PCAAC.

“It is desirable that, still under the aegis of the Polish presidency, that is, by the end of 2011, the Commission proposal – which the Portuguese Parliament has come to defend in an intransigent manner today – be approved and, if there is no force in the Council of Ministers of Agriculture, the matter should be taken to the Summit of Heads of State”, concluded Miguel Freitas.

"We are convinced that this proposal is an adequate solution to the need to adjust the Community Program to the new reality, both in terms of supply and in terms of diversification of foodstuffs, allowing the continuity of the community support scheme for the needy", he stressed the coordinator of the Socialist Party for the Commission on Agriculture and the Sea, defending that "the process should not be dragged out, as the Danish presidency, hostile to the program, is next".