According to MEPs, almost 120 million European live on the edge of poverty, and 40 million live in poverty. Lithuanian MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, a member of the EP's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats political group, tells BNS that 6 million children in the EU live in poor conditions, therefore, the majority of MEPs were also in favor of making it compulsory for EU members states to take part in the fund.
According to Blinkevičiūtė, the issues sparks discussions. "A part of MEPs believe countries should decide freely on the participation in the fund, if a member state thinks that it might do with funds it has and does not need the fund," she said.
There are four member states, including Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and Sweden, which are blocking in the Council the fund for the most deprived Europeans.
"If we don't manage to reach agreement by July, Lithuania will have to take over the negotiations on the fund," Blinkevičiūtė said.
Voting during its plenary session, the Parliament adopted its own opinion but postponed the final vote in order to launch information negotiations with the EU Council. The final decision on the fund and its size will be made following talks on the EU's multiannual budget.
The new fund is set to be in place by next year to replace the EU's existing food distribution program. Under the plan, the fund will be used not only for food but also other vital items, including clothes, school supplies, etc.