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European Food Aid Programme

Published on October 21, 2011
Interview given by Bruno Le Maire, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Town and Country Planning (Regional Development), to the “La Croix” newspaper (excerpts)

Paris, October 20, 2011


Q. – The future of the European Food Aid Programme for the Most Deprived (PEAD) is going to be decided today. Are you optimistic?

THE MINISTER – I’ve been doing intense diplomatic work to save this programme. I’ve been to Denmark, the Czech Republic and Germany.

I’ve had meetings with the European Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Cioloş, the Polish presidency and all my counterparts involved. I convened a meeting of the French and German charity organizations in Berlin. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic: I’m determined. But we mustn’t kid ourselves: the negotiations are very tough.

Q. – Why?

THE MINISTER – Because there are two very different conceptions of Europe. On the one hand, some states don’t believe Europe should concern itself with social policies. That’s Berlin’s constant position. On the other, there are those – like France – who believe Europe has this social vocation and can’t let down its most deprived citizens. Behind the PEAD, the real issue is how we think about the European Union.


Q. – In the event of failure, what will the consequences be for Europe?

THE MINISTER – If the Commission’s proposal to renew the PEAD on new legal foundations is rejected, the programme and the funding collapse. It would be a major defeat for Europe. It must choose solidarity, not national self-interest.

Q. – In that event, will France make up the shortfall to charities?

THE MINISTER – The Prime Minister has told me he’s determined not to abandon the charity organizations. But I’m not sure the Greek, Spanish or Portuguese governments will have the means to do likewise. We’ll see children and families in Europe who won’t have enough to eat because this programme has been suspended. I find that shocking.


Q. – The Commission today presents its proposals for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy post-2013. Do they think they’re likely to modernize the CAP?

THE MINISTER – The priority for us is to maintain the overall budget.

We secured that almost to the last euro, after a very tough battle. The second important point concerns the “greening” of the CAP. I’m in favour of it, because European agriculture must be able to reconcile the development of production with respect for the environment. But as it stands, the reform plan is too complex in administrative terms for farmers. We’ll have to look at that again. Finally, I wanted regulation tools to be put in place. That’s partly been done, but we haven’t got there yet. (…)./.

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