Impact of coronavirus on EU aid to the most deprived

Briefing 04-06-2020

Around 24 million people in the EU, or 5.6 % of the population, are 'severely materially deprived'. Fighting poverty and social exclusion is therefore a key priority, and to this end the EU supplements its Member States' aid to those most in need through the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which has a budget of €3.8 billion. Partner organisations selected by the Member States manage this support, providing food (e.g. distribution of food packages and meals) and material assistance (e.g. clothes), or activities to improve inclusion (e.g. better access to support and social services) to those in need. In parallel, the European Social Fund (ESF) remains the broader funding instrument fighting poverty and social exclusion. The coronavirus crisis poses specific risks for the most deprived and unparalleled challenges for the activities supported by the FEAD and the ESF. To safeguard the most vulnerable, and aid workers and volunteers, against the coronavirus disease, emergency measures have been taken to provide them with protective equipment. Changes, launched in April 2020, have sought to adapt the FEAD to the challenging situation. For instance, electronic vouchers have been introduced to deliver food aid and basic material assistance, to reduce the risk of contamination during delivery. Furthermore, FEAD money has been made available for buying protective equipment for those delivering the aid. Yet again, partner organisations and other players involved in the implementation of the FEAD have been enabled to quickly address the additional needs of the most deprived arising from the crisis. During the crisis, the fund will be 100 % EU-financed, including the 15 % normally paid by the Member States. Moreover, to face the acute labour crisis and its social consequences on the most deprived, the EU has taken initiatives to address immediate needs and mitigate negative impacts on employment and social policy, including measures to support the most vulnerable or deprived groups. Since the onset of the pandemic, the European Parliament has been at the forefront of initiatives to protect the most deprived.