European School Milk Scheme
The European Parliament and Council of Ministers have provisionally reached an agreement on the proposal to merge the European School Milk Scheme with the European Fruit and Vegetables Scheme. The new scheme will have a budget of €250 million/year - €100 million for milk products and €150 million for fruit and vegetables, as well as an August 2017 deadline for implementing the scheme. Member States must establish educational measures, and are now permitted to distribute a wider range of dairy products (with only the milk portion of the product being subsidised).
The Alliance met with Defra to discuss the UK’s plans to develop a national strategy for the implementation of the new scheme. Defra told the Alliance that it hopes to have industry input to draw up detailed proposals for the national strategy; it is hoped that work can start in the spring. Defra officials expect Farming Minister George Eustice to continue to be supportive of the UK’s participation in the scheme.
The European Commission published its final report into its evaluation of the European School Milk Scheme and European School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme, which was initially announced in December 2015 at the request of the Dutch commissioner. This followed on from the publication of the draft report in May 2015, which was generally favourable to the scheme. The final report’s text was largely unchanged from the draft report, and concluded that the reasons behind the creation of the school schemes are still valid, with the schemes enjoying strong legitimacy from stakeholders and Member States. EU action is considered proportionate by Member States. It also concluded that although improvements need to be made to both schemes, these will be addressed with the on-going proposals to reform them, mentioned above.
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