EU Heads Clash Over Responsibility For Food Aid

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France warned Germany and other countries on Sept. 20 that they risked provoking a food crisis in Europe because of their opposition to an EU-funded food aid scheme for the bloc s poorest citizens.

In the current economic crisis, this program is proof of the European principle of solidarity. It would be unacceptable for Europe to abandon its most vulnerable citizens, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.

France s farm minister Bruno Le Maire said dismantling the 500 million euro ($683 million) per year EU scheme in favour of national programs would threaten the food security of millions of European citizens already hit by financial difficulties.

In the midst of a deep financial crisis, 17 million Europeans are now unable to feed themselves except through this program, Le Maire told fellow EU farm ministers at a meeting in Brussels.

But Germany which is among a group of six countries that opposes the EU scheme said responsibility for social welfare issues should rest with national governments.

German State Secretary for Agriculture Robert Kloos said competence for social measures lies with governments. It is something that can be carried out far more efficiently by the member states themselves.

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