The Red Cross is distributing food aid across Europe at levels not seen since the end of the Second World War, the head of the organisation has said, showing how deeply the economic crisis and austerity measures are being felt by ordinary people.
At least one million people in Spain alone are receiving food aid from the Red Cross, which now has domestic operations in more than half of all EU nations, ranging from the poorest Eastern European members to wealthier countries such as Italy and Belgium.
European Union heads of state are meeting in Brussels tomorrow and Friday to discuss the bloc’s economic progress, against a backdrop of fierce divisions over whether government cuts are helping drag Europe back to prosperity, or stifling growth and causing unnecessary hardship.
Speaking in India on Monday, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, was quoted by the German press agency DPA as saying the distribution of the food was on a scale not seen since the war.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, has written to the European Council leaders urging them to stick to their economic reform plans, saying the efforts of member states “are starting to bear fruit”. But despite optimistic statements from Brussels, European electorates have frequently disagreed, voting out governments which have toed the EU and IMF line on austerity.