On 17-18 June, the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the European Union (EU) discussed progress made on the proposals for regulations merging the aid scheme for the supply of fruit, vegetables and milk in educational settings. The Council also adopted its Conclusions on the fruit and vegetable sector since the 2007 reform.
The Presidency presented its progress report on the Commission proposals for regulations merging the schemes for the supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in schools.
In light of discussions in the Council, the Presidency has identified the following main issues:
- The legal basis of the proposals. Delegations unanimously supported the Council Legal Service’s view that Article 43(3) TFEU (Council competence) – and not Article 43(2) TFEU (ordinary legislative procedure) – is the correct legal basis for the fixing of the level of aid.
- Objectives and scope of the regime. In general, delegations shared the objective of merging the school schemes to increase their efficiency and effectiveness and consolidate the legal and financial framework. They also confirmed the original objectives of the schemes – the promotion of the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk, that underlies the nutritional benefits for children. On the other hand, while a few delegations would support a narrow list of eligible products for regular distribution, as suggested by the Commission, many others considered the proposed scope unsatisfactory and preferred the scope of the existing scheme, particularly where dairy products are concerned. While supporting the continuation and strengthening of the fruit and vegetable scheme, EPHA calls for the milk element of the programme to be better defined so as not to undermine the entire scheme’s health and nutritional objectives. See EPHA and Freshfel analysis of the proposed merger.
The European Parliament is expected to start its work on the proposal in early autumn, after the institutional renewal.
During the meeting, the Council adopted conclusions on the Commission report on the implementation of the provisions concerning producer organisations, operational funds and operational programmes in the fruit and vegetable sector since the 2007 reform.