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On 20 May, EPHA participated in a joint meeting between EU Member States (MS), DG Agriculture’s Advisory Group on Fruit and Vegetables and the EU School Fruit Scheme (SFS) Expert Group. The meeting was an opportunity to review the current SFS implementation period.

A presentation given by DG Agriculture‘s Unit dealing with the SFS, summarised the scheme’s current implementation period of 2013/2014 but also presented a couple of interesting findings from the 2012/2013 period:

Over 8,6 million children in more than 61,000 schools benefited. In about 50% of EU MS up to 80-90% of all children were included. In general, children aged 6-10 were included, but some MSs start as early as 0-1-2- years of age.

– €90 million of EU funding is available annually (MS co-finance either at 50% or 25% rates). It will increase from 2014/2015 to €150 million with 75% – 90% co-financing rates (CAP 2020 reform).

– ‘In addition to being given portions of fruit and vegetables, children are offered accompanying measures (farm visits, gardening sessions) to be co-financed by the EU as from 2014/2015.

The vast majority of participating MS used up to 80-90% of annual budgets. There are just some countries that seem not to manage to use the funding available effectively.

– The implementation of the programme is multi-stakeholder and cross-sector, involving education, public health, agriculture and in some cases, social affairs and private sector.

– The presentation outlined further developments of the scheme for the period 2014/2015 and later:

– New indicative allocations for MS based on the higher budget have been adopted.

– Delegated Regulation 500/2014, providing for a definition and laying down eligible costs for accompanying measures has been adopted and published.

– National strategies and aid requests for 2014/2015 have been received from 25 MS within prescribed deadline (30 April).

– Calculations and adoption of final allocations for 2014/2015 are expected by 30 June.

– Update of Commission Regulation 288/2009 to integrate accompanying measures in provisions on aid applications,
controls, etc. is starting now and will be finished by the end of 2014.

– Recommendations of the Expert Group on the implementation
of accompanying measures.

– A joint framework for the distribution of fruit and vegetables and milk with stronger educational dimension adopted in January 2014.

A number of Member States gave interesting presentations on the way the scheme has been implemented in their countries: the Slovak Republic, Luxembourg, Italy.

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