9 out of 10 Europeans express steadfast support for development aid

European citizens continue to show resolute support to aid provided to developing countries according to a special Eurobarometer published. Two in three Europeans believe that the EU should honor, or even improve, on its promises to increase development aid to 0.7% of GNI by 2015, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goal.

One week before the UN High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, the survey shows that 89% of respondents consider development aid is important or very important.

This support, shared by a vast majority of citizens regardless of the nationality, has remained consistently high despite the financial crisis and the economic situation in Europe. In this context, three quarters (76%) of Europeans believe that there is added value in EU countries working together which contributes to avoid duplication and ensure aid effectiveness.

For this special Eurobarometer, 26,500, citizens in all 27 Member States were asked a series of questions on development issues in June 2010. The main result emerging from the survey is that general support for development has not been weakened during the economic crisis. The number of people who regard it as very important even rose from 39% last year to 45%.

These results are consistent with those set by the previous special 343 Eurobarometer survey on humanitarian aid, which showing a high level of solidarity among EU citizens with victims of conflict and natural disasters outside the Union.

The poll also reveals that, for the first time, the difference in attitude between so called EU 15 and EU 12 is clearly shrinking. The dividing line seems to run between the countries which have been most affected by the economic downturn and those which enjoy better economic situation. Citizens also indirectly support policy coherence in development: 43% believe that EU trade and finance policies have a positive impact on partner countries. Peace building policies also reach 42%, followed by agriculture (33%) and migration (22%).

Survey also shows that:

  • 42% of respondents see poverty as the biggest challenge for developing countries, followed by the economic crisis (36%), food (20%) and health issues (19%).
  • 42% are in favor of helping developing countries as a volunteer or with money. 30% either give money or work as a volunteer.
  • 63% see international organizations as best placed to help developing countries. Here, the EU comes third (17%), behind the UN (27%) and the World Bank (19%).

The special Eurobarometer 'Europeans, development aid and the Millennium Development Goals' aims to gauge the public commitment to development aid in view of the on-going economic crisis and in the light of the upcoming High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in New York (20-22 September). The Summit will examine progress towards the attainment of the UN poverty eradication initiative known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): an initiative to which all EU 27 Member States have committed themselves.

In 2009 the European Union and its Member States gave a total of €49 billion in development aid, which globally makes the EU by far the largest donor, representing 56% of global aid. The external aid managed by the European Commission amounted to €12 billion in 2009.