After their 25 February vote in plenary, members of the European Parliament prided themselves on having rescued aid for the most deprived, but they neglected to add that the sum of 3.5 billion for this purpose will be taken from other funds.

This is a victory considering that several member states, Germany among them, had brought an action before the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) over the previous food aid programme for the neediest and that the European Commission's legislative proposal was budgeted, by way of compromise, with only 2.5 billion for seven years (2014-2020). But the 3.5 billion will not be fresh funding: this amount will be taken from Structural Funds (social funds and Regional Development Fund).

This 'phenomenon of communicating vessels' is not limited to aid for the deprived. It applies to most of the other social funds.

Of the 6 billion budgeted for the Youth Employment initiative, only 3 billion are fresh funds and the remainder is taken from the European Social Fund (ESF) budget (70 billion). Another example: the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which at the request of Germany can co-finance actions in support of youth employment. Doing so might mean neglecting older persons, even though the EGF, which has an annual budget of 150 million maximum between 2014 and 2020, initially aimed to help workers who lose their jobs in massive layoffs get back into employment, rather than to promote first-time employment (which comes within the realm of the European...

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