The Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) contributes to Member States’ approaches to alleviating poverty, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. But it still mainly funds food support and does not always target the most extreme forms of poverty. Its function as a bridge towards social inclusion still has to be demonstrated, the EU auditors stress.
With €3.8 billion of EU funding over the 2014-2020 period, the FEAD is intended to be more than a food aid scheme, offering material assistance combined with tailored social inclusion measures. The auditors assessed whether the FEAD's design made it effective in helping to lift the most deprived people in the EU out of poverty and foster their social integration. They reviewed the programmes of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Although the FEAD contains a clear social inclusion objective, the auditors noted that it remains primarily a food aid scheme, with over 80 % of its budget devoted to such support. This is nevertheless highly appreciated by stakeholders dealing with the most deprived people, and the auditors also consider the FEAD a significant instrument in ensuring the provision of food and material support.
The auditors outline the possibilities the FEAD offers Member States to explicitly foster social inclusion. Yet only four Member States opted for programmes focused on social inclusion actions, representing a mere 2.5% of the Fund. Moreover, the success of such measures is not being monitored due to a lack of quantitative data. Therefore, the Fund’s contribution to alleviating poverty has not yet been demonstrated, conclude the auditors.
“Despite overall European prosperity, almost one in four people in the EU is still at risk of poverty or social exclusion”, said George Pufan, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “The FEAD is a welcome policy instrument to tackle this unacceptable situation. But to be really effective and to provide more added value, it needs to clearly target those most in need and the most extreme forms of poverty.”