In a damning attack on the union’s plans, Jacques Vandenschrik, the president of the European Food Banks Federation, said if the proposals were put in a place, the most vulnerable would be at risk alongside even the stability of wider society. The trading bloc is currently working out the details of its long-term budget, known as the multi-annual financial framework (MFF). Within that budget the spending commitments have now become extremely hard to fulfil as the UK’s exit has left a huge discrepancy in funding that EU officials are now hurriedly trying to make up.
Currently the budget ending in 2020 allots a €3.8 billion fund for European aid help member states provide people with basic supplies in order to live including toiletries and food.
However, going forward this fund has been scrapped. Instead member states are expected to devote €2 billion each in food and basic assistance.
The commission has said it hopes member states will devote twice that amount though their is no obligation to do so.
Mr Vandenschrik, who with his organisation helps food banks across Europe distribute surplus food, blasted the new proposals as a “false economy”.
The EU’s new aid budget proposals have been savaged
The proposals were accused of affecting the most poor on the continent
He said: “I think we must do better for the poorest of the poor. We cannot accept that we must deliver half or 60% of the food that they receive now. The explanation is that the overall budget of Europe needs to be tightened up.
“Brexit is one of the arguments. The other is the need for the strengthening of the defence of Europe. But this will have an impact on health and social cohesion. It is a false economy to save on the poor.
“It is far better to increase their purchase power by giving them food so that the little money they don’t spend on food they can spend on the economy.”
Vandenschrik explained the poorest people in eastern European member states would probably be hit hardest and stressed the potential dangers the new approach could have.
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Mr Vandenschrik said “we need to better for the poorest”
He added: “The consequences will be an increase in instability and incivility. If people and their children are hungry, they will make plans. And this might not be very nice for society. We cannot make progress by leaving the poor on the side. This is not the way to make our society better.”
Responding to the concerns a spokesperson for the commission said it would focus on encouraging member states to reach that €4 billion (£3.4bn) spending target.
She said: “Following an impact assessment, the commission proposed to merge the fund for European aid to the most deprived into the new European social fund plus for the EU’s budget of 2021-2027 to ensure better synergies between the two funds.
“The commission has proposed an EU-level target of 4% of the European social fund plus’s budget of €100bn in shared management to address material deprivation, which would mean the amount is similar to the current FEAD budget [of €3.8bn]. The commission is confident that this target amount of funding will be programmed by member states and the commission will be vigilant in ensuring this.”
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A spokesperson said they would focus on getting member states to donate at suggested levels
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The spokeswoman added: “Member states experience different degrees of poverty and social exclusion, and several member states are expected to maintain more than 5% of funds available for the support to the most deprived. However, as a safeguard, we have proposed a 2% minimum allocation.”
The news comes as Boris Johnson has slapped down EU Chief Ursula Von der Leyen after she warned Brussels may need to extend the deadline for talks about a new trade relationship the UK.
Britain has set a hard deadline of December 2020 for reaching a new trade deal with the EU.
But the European Commission President said both sides needed to seriously think about whether this is enough time to negotiate a new trade deal and work out agreements about a series of other issues.
Ms Von der Leyen told French daily newspaper Les Echos: “It would be reasonable to evaluate the situation mid-year and then, if necessary, agree on extending the transition period.”
In separate comments to German magazine Der Spiegel, Ms Von der Leyen added the UK’s departure deadline on December 31 “worries her a lot.”
She said: “That worries me a lot, because time is extremely short for the mass of issues that have to be negotiated.”
Mr Johnson however has reportedly slapped down the suggestion
But Mr Johnson hit back that he will not back down by insisting the transition will end on at the end of December 2020.
A UK government spokesman said on Friday: “The Prime Minister has been clear that we will not be extending the Implementation Period.
“Both the EU and the UK committed to agreeing a future partnership by the end of 2020 in the Political Declaration and have agreed to work with great energy to achieve this.”