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European Commission - Press release

Development aid: Europeans show overwhelming support for helping world's poor

Brussels, 23 November 2011 - Europeans regard helping the poor as a priority, according to a new survey. 84% of respondents to a new Eurobarometer support development aid to help people across the world out of poverty. The majority of EU citizens (84%) also support the strong focus of EU aid on good governance and human rights in developing countries, a direction proposed by Commissioner Piebalgs in his recent policy proposal, "Agenda for Change".

Europeans are ready to actively participate in helping the poor – half of EU citizens are willing to pay more for their daily shopping (e.g. for fair trade products), if they know that this would benefit developing countries, according to the same survey.

EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: "Europeans are sending a clear message to politicians in the EU and beyond: even in times of economic hardship, they remain firmly committed to helping others out of poverty. This generosity has to be matched by political responsibility. We have to be more efficient and transparent to show the results of our aid and prove that the funds make a real difference. Next week's high level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, South Korea will be a key opportunity to look at how we can make our aid even more effective and I am pleased to see that citizens support us in this aim".

European youth – the strongest ally of the world's poor

Young people of Europe (aged 15-24) voiced their strong support for development policy, Eurobarometer reveals. 9 out of 10 think that it is important to help poor people and 41% think it is "very important" in comparison to 35% of people above 40 years of age. They show also the strongest personal commitment to the cause, as 53% of the young and 60% of students would be ready to pay more for products (e.g. fair trade) if this would benefit poor people in the world. The young also express the biggest support for keeping the promise to increase the aid levels (69% where the average for all the respondents is 62%).

Other results

  • 62% of European citizens are in favour of increasing development aid to at least 0.7% of EU Gross National Income by 2015

  • 70% think of sub-Saharan Africa as the part of the world most in need of aid to fight poverty, followed by Middle East and North Africa (33%)

  • 80% is in favour of linking development with other EU policies such as migration, trade or access to energy.

  • 42% believe that effectiveness of aid can mainly be increased by working more closely with developing countries themselves, while 36% prefer improved cooperation with other donor countries, such as the USA and Australia.


The special Eurobarometer 375 'Making a difference in the world: Europeans and the future of development aid' was carried out in the 27 EU Member States in September 2011. 26,856 Europeans aged 15 or over were interviewed face-to-face. The survey aims to gauge the public's views on development aid and the future of development cooperation ahead of the High-Level Meeting on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea (which takes place between 29 th November and 2 nd December).

Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

The fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, will be a key opportunity to continue efforts in improving the effectiveness of aid and strengthen partnerships between developing countries, donors and NGOs, as well as emerging economies and private sector.

The forum will also be a chance to discuss progress on previous global commitments made in Paris and Accra as well as to focus and deepen commitments to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are achieved by 2015.

The Agenda for Change

In October 2011 the European Commission presented the 'Agenda for Change' of EU development policy. The proposals set out a more strategic EU approach to reducing poverty, including through a more targeted allocation of funding for development aid.

Future EU spending should concentrate on sectors which are key for long-term and inclusive growth and target countries that are in the greatest need of external support and where aid can make a difference. In order to generate more resources, the EU will explore innovative ways of financing development, like the blending of grants and loans. The Commission will also encourage the EU and its Member States to jointly prepare strategies and programmes (so called "joint programming") and better divide labour amongst themselves in order to increase aid effectiveness.

The EU as a donor

The European Union as a whole (Member States plus EuropeAid, Commission-managed funds) is the biggest donor of official development aid worldwide and helps people in over 150 countries. In 2010, it provided €53.8 billion (more than 50% of global aid). The European Commission is responsible for the management of €11 billion of aid per year, putting it in second place among donors globally.

For more information

MEMO/11/815 – Background: Special Eurobarometer 'Making a difference in the world – Europeans and development aid'

Link to the full Special Eurobarometer report:

Link to the Agenda for Change:

Website of DG Development and Cooperation EuropeAid:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

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