Iratxe García Pérez

European schoolchildren could be given subsidized olive oil if a proposal from Spanish Members of the European Parliament goes ahead.

Existing EU schemes promote consumption of milk and fruit in schools and members say a similar one should cover olive oil.

Iratxe García Pérez, Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, Alejandro Cercas and Ricardo Cortés Lastra tabled the proposal as part of ongoing negotiations on the next round of EU agriculture funding:

“Olive oil is the key element of the Mediterranean diet,” the amendment states. “Various studies published over the last few decades have reported a link between eating olive oil and improved cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system and keeping other major public health problems under control.”

“Olive oil consumption in the EU needs to be promoted. With this in mind, the Commission is urged to design, within one year of the entry into force of this Regulation, a programme similar to those aimed at promoting the consumption of dairy products and fruit and vegetables in educational and health care establishments.”

“EU funding provided to Member States that decide to participate would be similar to that provided for the existing programmes mentioned above,” they said.

The four members of Spain’s main opposition party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), sit on the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, which is currently working its way through more than 7,000 proposed changes to the EC’s proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

García Pérez has a key role in these negotiations as shadow rapporteur for what’s known as the Single CMO regulation.

The Committee’s final position is expected to be agreed by a vote in December or January.

Under the EU School Fruit Scheme, 290 million portions – mainly apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers – were distributed to 8.1 million students in 2010/11 at a cost of €90 million in EU funding.

The scheme, which must be co-financed by national or private funds, aims to increase the low consumption of fruit and vegetables among children.

Similarly, the School Milk Scheme promotes dairy products. In the 2007-2008 school year it received more than €55 million in EU subsidies and saw nearly 300,000 tons of milk distributed to schools across Europe. It has since been extended to other produce, including cheeses and fermented milk products.

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