Brussels, 06 July 2007
On the eve of the symbolic mid-term date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a European Commission survey shows broad public support for the European Union's priorities in development co-operation. Most Europeans (66%) consider reducing extreme poverty and hunger in developing countries as a priority. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases is the second goal (46%). And across the EU, Sub-Saharan Africa stands out in most people's minds as being in greatest need of aid (64%).
Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said: "This is clearly an issue on which Europeans are engaged, and so is the Commission. Last year, over €100 for every EU citizen went in official development assistance. Giving more aid, making it more effective, increasing the coordination among us and ensuring the coherence with other policies such as trade and environment: that is the way we can contribute to achieving the MDGs by 2015."
The survey shows that, overall, EU citizens appear to have rather well-defined ideas about the priorities of development aid. Reflecting the first objective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), adopted by the UN in the year 2000, "reducing extreme poverty and hunger" is universally named as a top priority of development aid: 66% of EU citizens mention it as a top-three priority.
Linked to this, the majority of EU citizens (64%) consider that Sub-Saharan Africa is the area in greatest need of development aid. That's twice as much as the Indian sub-continent, which ranks second with 34%. This opinion is held by the largest segment of the poll in each Member State.
Regarding development aid for Africa, European citizens consider the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases as the most important field for EU development aid (46%), before peace and security (43%) and human rights (37%).
The main motivation for richer countries to provide help to poorer countries is linked to pragmatism. 28% of EU citizens name global stability as the main motivation for development aid; another 28% name self-interest in terms of gaining economic advantages from increased trade between donor and recipient countries.
Moving on from opinions to knowledge, however, this study shows a considerable lack of knowledge of international development aid policy initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals and the European Consensus on Development, a set of principles agreed by all EU institutions in December 2005 to improve the coherence and harmonization of European development aid. Even if a fifth and a quarter of EU citizens respectively have heard of these policies, only a very slight minority (4% and 6% respectively) is familiar with their content.
Finally, the added value of the EU as a development actor is not clear for its citizens, despite the EU's role as the world’s leading donor. A third of EU citizens were not able to select or choose a factor that would explain the added value of the EU when compared to the EU’s national governments (28%), and a few spontaneously say that giving aid through the EU does not offer any advantages (5%).
The EU is the world's largest aid donor. In 2006, European official development aid amounted €48 billion, which represents 0.42% of GNI (exceeding the intermediate Monterrey target of 0.39% for 2006). In 2005, the European Council committed to raise aid spending by at least €20 billion per year by 2010 and to reach the 0.7% target by 2015.
The survey was carried out between in February and March 2007 in the 27 Member Sates of the European Union. Nearly 27,000 respondents were interviewed face-to-face at their homes in their national languages.
The Eurobarometer is available at: