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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Food Assistance Convention

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Food Assistance Convention

The European Union (EU) contributes to meeting the food and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable in non-EU countries. This Convention makes donors' coordination of this assistance more efficient and effective at a global level.


Council Decision 2012/738/EU on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Food Assistance Convention.


What's the issue?

The Food Assistance Convention, the most recent of a series of multilateral agreements between donors, seeks to provide appropriate and effective food and nutrition assistance to vulnerable populations in eligible countries, based on identified needs.

The aim of the Convention is to:

  • save lives
  • reduce hunger
  • improve food security*
  • improve the quality of nutrition of the most vulnerable populations in eligible countries.

In line with the EU's humanitarian food assistance policy, the Convention aims to improve vulnerable populations' access to and consumption of adequate, safe and nutritious food on the basis of proper needs analysis.

What has changed?

Under the Convention, parties share information, cooperate, and liaise with one another. It also serves as a forum for discussion allowing them to exchange information with other interested parties about issues - e.g. lessons learnt in the running of a given type of programme - to help ensure that their resources are used to maximum effect.

Operation: Each party agrees to make a minimum annual commitment of food assistance, expressed in terms of value or quantity. This commitment should be made in the form of a grant, whenever possible.

It is clearly stipulated that food assistance may not be tied in any way, to commercial exports of agricultural products or other goods and services to recipient countries.

Contributions may be provided:

  • bilaterally,
  • through intergovernmental or other international organisations, or
  • through other food assistance partners.

Eligible countries include:

Background: the European Union is a party to the International Grains Agreement comprising 2 distinct legal instruments: the Grains Trade Convention and the Food Assistance Convention. Other signatories include the US, Australia, Canada, Japan and Switzerland .


* food security: the World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing ‘when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life’.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2012/738



OJ L 330 of 30.11.2012


Council Decision 2011/339/EU establishing the position to be taken by the European Union within the Food Aid Committee as regards the extension of the Food Aid Convention, 1999 .

Council Decision 2010/316/EU establishing the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Union within the Food Aid Committee as regards the extension of the Food Aid Convention 1999 .

Council Decision 2011/224/EU establishing the position to be taken by the European Union within the International Grains Council with respect to the extension of the Grains Trade Convention 1995 .

Council Decision 2000/421/EC on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Food Aid Convention 1999 .

last update 10.03.2014