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Why participate to a European Project? The example of Accor Services

Nathalie Renaudin, Delegate for European Affairs, Institutional Relations Directorate, ACCOR Services

Under what framework is this community action programme integrated? May you explain to us the involvement of Accor Services in this project?

Under its community action programme in the field of Health and Consumer Protection, the European Commission (DG SANCO – Health and Consumer Protection) has launched a call for proposals about the fight against obesity and inequalities in accessing a balanced diet. This call answers to the three objectives for the 2007-2013 period: - improving health safety of citizens - promoting health to reinforce prosperity and solidarity - producing and disseminating health-related knowledge.

Leaning on the unique channel of communication that the Restaurant Ticket allows to establish between employees and restaurants, Accor Services wishes to develop its capacities to influence both the restaurateurs\' food offer and European consumers’ lifestyles and habits. From a pilot initiated in France aiming at promoting a balanced diet, Accor Services has wished to get more involved by seeking advice from political, economical, social and medical experts.

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Under what framework is this community action programme integrated? May you explain to us the involvement of Accor Services in this project?

Under its community action programme in the field of Health and Consumer Protection, the European Commission (DG SANCO – Health and Consumer Protection) has launched a call for proposals about the fight against obesity and inequalities in accessing a balanced diet. This call answers to the three objectives for the 2007-2013 period: - improving health safety of citizens - promoting health to reinforce prosperity and solidarity - producing and disseminating health-related knowledge.

Leaning on the unique channel of communication that the Restaurant Ticket allows to establish between employees and restaurants, Accor Services wishes to develop its capacities to influence both the restaurateurs\' food offer and European consumers’ lifestyles and habits. From a pilot initiated in France aiming at promoting a balanced diet, Accor Services has wished to get more involved by seeking advice from political, economical, social and medical experts.



All stakeholders of the Consortium (which comprises the Belgian Ministry of Health, CIRIHA (nutritionists); the Spanish Ministry of Health (AESAN) and the Fundacion Dieta Mediterranea; the National French Institute for Prevention and Education for Health (INPES) and the Paul Bocuse Institue; the Perugia University; the Czech Study Association of Obesity, the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm Universty)) share a common interest: the promotion of healthy ways of life and the fight against obesity by working on food; hence the project\'s name “FOOD”: Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand!



After a first assessment phase of existing programmes and a survey on needs, experts will make recommendations (adapted to specific cultures and contexts) so that the Consortium may act:
- towards restaurants: which will be offered guides elaborated by partners, information conferences, a follow up, ground training for cookers and restaurant staff, a training kit, information and demonstration DVDs;
- towards companies: Corporate managers, HRD (Human Resources Directions) and work doctors will be invited to participate to the programme. A complete website will be regularly updated and adapted to each country‘s pilots. Educational guides and movies for employees (who are consumers and sometimes parents) will be downloadable with advice, tips and recipes. Information posters and trainings will be proposed to companies.



A FOOD bus will travel through the 6 concerned countries during a Road Show, to meet restaurateurs and employees.



Associated countries and partners (the Consortium):
- In Belgium: the Ministry of Health (PNNS) and the CIRIHA
- In Spain: the Ministry of Health (AESAN) and the Fundacion Dieta Mediterranea
- In France: the National Institute for Health Prevention and Education (INPES) and the Paul Bocuse Institute
- In Italy: the Perugia University
- In Czech Republic: the Czech Study Association of Obesity
- In Sweden: the Karolinska Institutet



The FOOD project will provide a real value added because, from a common basis, several pilots with distinct orientations and objectives will be led in parallel, thus enabling the experts to centralize and analyze the best practices to disseminate their recommendations in the six countries and then in all institutions working on the issue (NGOs, think-thank, Expert Committees to national governments, etc.).



For what reasons was Accor Services interested in this European project? What are their benefits to participate in such a project?



This project is implemented under the sustainable development policy of Accor Group. Accor Services - a citizen, French and European company -, by proposing a close cooperation between the private and public sectors, is seeking to build on the unique vector that the Restaurant ticket is (23 million users and 1 million affiliated restaurants in the world) to promote public policies towards specific targets which might be difficult to reach.



In addition, Accor Services is seeking to answer the new needs of its clients. Indeed, the lunch break is a fundamental element of health and well-being for employees. That is why the Restaurant Ticket was born, 40 years ago, answering the needs of employees who did not have access to a canteen. But today, needs have changed. The diet balance is taking an increasing importance and consumers are looking for a lunch offer combining balance and diversity.



Finally, participating in this project is for us, a guarantee of quality: we are going to work with reliable partners and the presented project is very complete (all the technical, budgetary and operational elements must be defined upstream).



At last, could you share with us your experience in the set-up of European projects? The problems you met and the advice you would like to give?



Those projects are extremely complex and require a lot of time and experience. Thus, being able to rely on experts in European projects management seems essential to me; at least during a first experience. Nevertheless, consultants\' help should never incite us not to be strongly involved, once we have chosen to apply for a call for proposals.

This is the very objective of this kind of project: gathering partners, thinking together about actions, answering the Commission\'s objectives and then entering the writing phase, the negotiation phase (notably on budgetary sides), etc.



In the end, this experience is very rewarding and is worth trying.

One should maybe expect to submit a project several times before the European Commission approves it.



On the personal plan, this experience makes me want to start many new projects!

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