In times of economic crisis and hardship, the "food for the needy" programme must continue beyond 2013 in the wider context of fighting poverty, and the Commission will act on Parliament's request that it table a proposal to this end, said Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday, in a statement welcomed by many MEPs.
The EU must continue to show solidarity to those who can not afford to feed themselves and their families, said many MEPs, pointing out that 18 million people, often children, in 20 Member States now rely on the programme and another 43 million are at risk of food poverty.
The Commission will fight alongside the Parliament for the programme, which should be financed from the European Social Fund in the future, said Commissioner Rehn.
In February 2012, after pressure from the European Parliament, the EU food aid programme won a reprieve until the end of 2013.
Parliament has been a strong advocate of keeping the programme running after 2013 and MEPs had called on the Commission to come up with legislative proposals to this end, despite opposition from some Member States.
Watch the video of the debate (link on the right).