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Yes to more solidarity towards the poorest countries: broad support for development aid, new survey reveals

European Commission - IP/12/1102   16/10/2012

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 16 October 2012

Yes to more solidarity towards the poorest countries: broad support for development aid, new survey reveals

85% of EU citizens believe that Europe should continue helping developing countries despite the economic crisis. The findings were announced today by European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs at the European Development Days. The new Eurobarometer survey on development shows that 61% of Europeans are in favour of increasing aid to help people out of poverty. At the same time, a majority of 55% think that rapidly growing emerging countries should no longer receive aid. Most people (61%) believe that aid should focus on fragile countries which have suffered conflict or natural crises for example.

Europeans see a positive role for private business in developing countries, mainly in creating jobs (57%) but also expect that foreign companies adhere to moral and ethical standards when they invest (81%). A majority of 53% sees corruption as the main obstacle that blocks development in poor countries. However, only 44% would be prepared to personally spend more money on products that support development (such as fair-trade goods).

EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs commented: "I am encouraged to see that for most Europeans solidarity remains a deeply rooted value, even though their own economic situation may be difficult. The EU is about to decide the next seven year budget and people are sending a clear message to their leaders – savings should not be made at the expense of the poorest on the planet. But they also demand guarantees that aid goes to the poorest and provide visible results. This is in full line with my will to focus aid on countries most in need and to put inclusive growth and human rights at the heart of development policy. I'm also committed to better demonstrate the difference EU aid makes in fighting poverty to further boost the trust in our actions.

The Eurobarometer "Solidarity that spans the globe – Europeans and development" was presented at the European Development Days in Brussels (16-17 October). This event is bringing together Heads of State and Governments from Africa with EU institutions, EU ministers, representatives of UN institutions, civil society, academia and the private sector. Discussions are focussing on:

• agriculture, food security and resilience;

• social protection and inequality;

• the role of the private sector

  • Main EU trends

Economic crisis does not affect solidarity with the poor. In Spain the level of support for helping the poor did not change since last year (88%), in Greece and Italy the decrease was minimal (-2 percentage points), while in Ireland the support increased by 3 percentage points to 88%. Only in Portugal (-10 points) the decline in opinion more notable.

The personal commitment of Europeans decreases. Only 44% are willing to pay more for products (e.g. fair trade) in order to support people in the developing world (3 points less than in 2011). Respondents in EU15 countries are much more likely to be willing to pay more (50% vs. 25% of EU12). In the case of 6 countries, there was minimum 10 percentage points decline in willingness of the citizens to pay more: Greece (33% are willing to pay more) Czech Republic (28%), Slovenia (30%), Spain (35%), Lithuania (24%) and Portugal (12). Not surprisingly, citizens from the richer countries are more willing to shop for fair trade goods. The leaders are in: Sweden (76%), the Netherlands (76%) and Luxembourg (70%).

Increase of development aid funding has more supporters in North West Europe and less so in South East Europe. In Sweden, Denmark and Austria a vast majority of people are in favour of increase to 0.7% of GNI or beyond (80%, 76% and 74% respectively). The countries with the biggest amount of people who would like to reduce aid are: Bulgaria (38%), Slovenia (32%) and Greece (30%).

  • Key results of the Special Eurobarometer on development

Support for helping poor people in developing countries is consistently very high, at 85% (2011: 88%). 37% think it is 'very important', 48% see it as 'fairly important'.

Six out of ten Europeans think that aid to developing countries should be increased despite the crisis. Half of the respondents (49%) are of the opinion that the EU should keep its promise to increase aid to developing countries. 12% think that aid should be increased beyond what has been promised. At the same time 18% think that aid should be reduced because Europe can no longer afford it. This figure has increased by 7 percentage points since 2009 (11%).

61% of Europeans believe that aid should be prioritised for countries in fragile situations (e.g. caused by conflict or natural disasters). 30% believe that the EU should help developing countries, regardless if they are in a fragile situation or not.

A majority of Europeans believe that countries like Brazil, India or China should no longer receive aid. Asked if rapidly growing emerging countries in which some of the population is still poor, should continue to receive aid, 24% totally disagreed and 31% tended to disagree.

Europeans believe that development aid should focus mainly on human rights (34%), education (33%), health (32%), economic growth (29%) and agriculture/food security (29%). Three answers were possible.

44% would be ready to spend more money on products to help people in developing countries, a drop from 47% in 2011. Correspondingly, the number of people unwilling to spend more increased from 47% to 52%.

Europeans see corruption (53%) as the biggest obstacle to successful development. This is followed by "bad policies" of governments in developing countries (41%) and conflicts (33%). A maximum of three answers was possible for this question.

Most people see the main role of the private sector as creating jobs (57%) and providing growth (42%) or technological exchange and progress (29%). A minority also sees them as exploiting developing countries (27%) or involved in corruption (21%). Three answers were possible.

81% agree that private companies have social and ethical responsibility when investing in developing countries. 87% think donors like the EU should try to ensure that private companies adhere to social and ethical standards.

This Eurobarometer was carried out by TNS Opinion & Social between 2 June and 17 June, 2012. Some 26,622 Europeans aged 15 or over were interviewed face-to-face in their homes.

For further information

The Special Eurobarometer can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_399_380_en.htm#392

Country specific results can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_399_380_en.htm#392

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Website of the European Development Days:

http://eudevdays.eu/

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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