The European School Milk Scheme is largely ineffective according to the European Court of Auditors

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) audit on the European Union’s School Milk Scheme (SMS) and School Fruit Scheme (SFS) shows that this scheme is largely ineffective and has very little impact. The audit also includes an evaluation of the School Fruit Scheme. ECA concludes that its design gives it a better chance to achieve its objectives than the Milk Scheme.

The latest European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) special report published shows that the audit made to the School Milk Scheme is largely ineffective and has very little impact. The conclusions also show that the Milk Scheme is affected by very significant deadweight, i.e. the subsidised products, in most cases, would have been included in canteen meals or bought by the beneficiaries without the subsidy. This effect is enhanced by the lack of a mechanism for targeting priority needs. In addition, the stated educational goals are insufficiently taken into account in the design and implementation of the scheme.

Due to the audit negative results, the ECA makes a series of recommendations. If the Milk Scheme is to be continued, thorough reforms will be needed to remedy the weaknesses identified. The model of distribution outside canteens and free of charge should be considered, targeting a population to be determined in relation to actual nutritional needs. The role and importance of the accompanying educational measures should be assessed. There should also be greater coordination and synergy between this scheme and other similars to ensure that they have a harmonised approach to nutrition and are managed efficiently.

ECA also refers to the School Fruit Scheme in its report. According to the Court, although it is too early to conclude on the effectiveness of the School Fruit Scheme, its design gives it a better chance to achieve its objectives. Some solutions employed for the Fruit Scheme could be considered as possible ways to improve the effectiveness of the Milk Scheme.