Saturday

13th Aug 2022

EU to fight bad diets with free fruit

The EU could soon be footing the bill for the free distribution of fruit and vegetables to schools, holiday camps and charities, as the European Commission combines an overhaul of the fruit and vegetable sector with its fight against obesity.

A draft proposal to be adopted today (24 January) aims to revamp the rules on EU subsidies for the sector which currently accounts for 3.1 percent of the EU budget and around a fifth of the bloc's total agricultural production.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

At the heart of the plan is a shift from supporting farmers according to how much they produce to payments based on the size of their land and some other criteria, in line with the overall reform of the hugely criticised common agriculture policy.

But the package also includes measures aimed at promoting a healthy diet, by promising farmers a 100 percent reimbursement for fruit and vegetables delivered for free to charities, school canteens or children's holiday camps.

The commission is suggesting cutting by half EU funds currently provided to farmers for withdrawing perishable products from the market if they are not selling well. But if they are earmarked for free distribution, Brussels will pay the whole bill.

The EU executive points to the fact that Europeans lag behind the World Health Organisation's recommendation for a minimum daily intake of 400g of fruit and vegetables.

Only the Greeks and Finns stand out consuming 500g per day while other countries' citizens eat well under the suggested amount with the Brits and Austrians averaging 200g.

Under Wednesday's draft plan, the EU will also cover 60 percent of the costs for producers' initiatives aimed at promoting the consumption of fruit and vegetables by children under 18 years of age.

Wide overhaul recommended

The fruit and vegetables' reform envisages more EU cash - at least 20 percent - to be used by farmers for improving environment standards and a reduction in export subsidies as their impact has decreased, according to the commission.

In a publication to outline the plan, farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel says the sector is "under pressure" from both retailers and discount chains and from third country imports.

"Our ability to tackle these challenges is not helped by the high level of producer fragmentation", she argues.

Her new scheme wants to introduce less bureaucratic procedures for setting up funds to help farmers facing competition.

The reform is likely to be closely watched in Spain and Greece where the fruit and vegetables sector represents around 30 percent of the whole agriculture production, while in Italy, Malta and Portugal it covers about a quarter of the output.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us