Brussels, 4 August 2010
Special Eurobarometer survey on humanitarian aid: Europeans care – and endorse the Commission's mandate
A special Eurobarometer survey on humanitarian aid reveals a high level of solidarity among EU citizens with victims of conflict and natural disasters outside the Union. Eight out of ten citizens (79%) think it is important that the EU funds humanitarian aid outside its borders. However, the financial and economic crisis has taken its toll as the approval rate dropped 9% from 88% in 2006 when the last survey was carried out. There is a clear link between this decrease and the individual financial situation of citizens; those who have problems paying their bills expressed less support. At the same time, there is a strong endorsement of the Commission's mandate to provide relief aid, undertaken through its humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO). An overall majority of EU citizens (58%), and a relative majority in all Member States, think that humanitarian aid is more efficient when provided by the EU through the European Commission. Around one quarter (24%) would prefer that relief funds be channelled through Member States.
The Special Eurobarometer 343 on Humanitarian Aid looked at four major issues:
(1) Importance of EU humanitarian aid activities for EU citizens
(2) Awareness of humanitarian aid and the actors in this domain
(3) Knowledge and information on EU humanitarian aid activities
(4) Common or national approach to humanitarian aid
In a nutshell:
Europe cares – eight out of ten EU citizens (79%) think that it is important that the European Union funds humanitarian aid activities outside its borders.
EU citizens have a clear opinion on how humanitarian aid should be administered. In every single Member State, a clear majority of EU citizens (58% on average) think that humanitarian aid is more efficient if provided jointly by the Union through the European Commission.
Citizens think that EU humanitarian aid is an important issue on which they should be kept informed (86% do so), despite a perceived lack of knowledge about such activities, as only 18% feel well informed.
18% of respondents spontaneously name the EU, the European Commission and/or its Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) as an humanitarian aid donor.
79% think it is important that the European Union (EU) funds humanitarian aid outside its borders (88% in 2006/EU25).
This is a significant drop of 9% compared to the results in 20061, but is still a very large majority in support of such action. A decrease in support can be noted in all Member States with the exception of Cyprus where the approval rate remained at the same high level (95%). Member States with the largest reduction in support are Latvia (70% / -18%) and Lithuania (68% / -15%). In Belgium (71%), Denmark (80%), Poland (79%), Romania (74%) and the UK (75%) support in all countries dropped by 14%.
The financial and economic crisis has taken its toll: the personal financial situation of those interviewed plays a role, with those regularly having problems paying their bills expressing less support for EU funding of humanitarian aid beyond the EU borders.
85% of EU citizens can name at least one organisation providing humanitarian aid on the ground and 72% can name at least one organisation funding humanitarian assistance.
The awareness for donor organisations is lower than for implementing ones. However, even in countries with the lowest identification rate (the Baltic States, Malta and Poland), a large proportion of the population is able to identify one or more organisations involved in humanitarian aid.
The organisations widest known among EU citizens are the Red Cross and UNICEF.
18% spontaneously name the EU, the European Commission and/or the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) as an actor funding humanitarian aid2. And despite the fact that this is actually not the EU's role, 12% spontaneously name the EU, the Commission and/or ECHO as a provider of humanitarian aid on the ground.3 43% know that the EU funds humanitarian actions, when asked.4
This is a huge surge in spontaneous recognition for the EU. In 2006, when asked a slightly different question5, just 7% proactively mentioned the EU.
Comparison with other actors
Providing aid on the ground
2006 (EU25) 6
EU / European Commission / ECHO
Respective national (EU) governments
Any EU Member States government
(see questions QB1 and QB2 on the last page)
When asked if they know that the EU, through the Commission and ECHO, funds humanitarian actions outside its borders, 43% responded with 'yes', with Luxembourg coming first (72%) and Belgium second (58%). The lowest percentage rate was noted in Romania and non-EU member Iceland (both 28%).
86% think it is important to be informed about EU humanitarian aid activities (87% in 2006/EU25).
18% feel they are well informed about humanitarian aid activities (22% in 2006/EU25 and 11% in 2001).
31% of respondents feel "not at all informed". A correlation between education and knowledge should be noted: the less educated respondents are, the less informed they feel.
58% think it is more efficient to provide humanitarian aid through the EU rather than by each Member State separately (56% in 2006/EU25). 24% prefer Member State option (26% in 2006/EU25). 5% favour neither one nor the other.
The strongest support for a common action is found in Cyprus (71%), Spain and Portugal (both 68%), Belgium (66%), France (65%) as well as in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and The Netherlands (all 62%). Support for a common action below 50% is found in four Member States: Ireland and Romania (both 43% support), Lithuania (46%) and the UK (49%).
In all EU Member States only a minority favours a national approach to humanitarian aid, reaching the highest figure in the Czech Republic (33%), Slovenia and the UK (both 32%). The lowest support for a national approach to humanitarian aid is Portugal (12%), Bulgaria and Spain (both 16%).
Large positive shifts in the support for a common action can be noted in Bulgaria and Spain (both +12%) and Cyprus (+11%), whereas a significant decrease is reported in Greece (-9%) and Belgium (-8%).
Special Eurobarometer 343 on Humanitarian Aid was carried out in the 27 EU Member States plus Iceland. 26,800 citizens were interviewed face-to-face between February and March 2010 about their perception of humanitarian aid in general and EU humanitarian aid in particular.
Special Eurobarometer 343 questions on Humanitarian Aid 2010
QB1. Can you name some organizations involved in providing humanitarian aid? By providing aid, we mean that they provide on-the-ground support.
QB2. And now, can you name any organizations that are funding humanitarian aid? By funding, we mean that they provide financial support to humanitarian aid.
QB3. Do you know that the European Union, through the European Commission and its Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), funds humanitarian aid activities in countries outside the European Union?
QB4. How well informed do you think you are about the European Union humanitarian aid activities?
QB5. How important do you think it is that the European Union funds humanitarian aid activities outside the European Union?
QB6. How important do you think it is that European citizens are informed about humanitarian aid activities funded by the European Union, through the European Commission and its Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO)?
QB7. Would you say that humanitarian aid is more efficient if provided by each Member State of the European Union separately or if it is provided by the European Union through the European Commission?
The European Union as a humanitarian actor
The EU as a whole – European Commission plus Member States – is the world's largest humanitarian aid donor, helping people in need across the globe. The Commission alone spent on average nearly €800 million annually in the last five years (€931.7m in 2009).
The Commission's humanitarian funds are channelled through its Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. The projects it finances are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies (like OCHA, WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF), and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement.
For further information:
Link for downloads of the report:
Special Eurobarometer 268 on Humanitarian Aid 2006, carried out in the 25 EU Member States and Bulgaria and Romania. 26,853 citizens were interviewed face-to-face between 7 June and 12 July 2006 about their perception of humanitarian aid in general and EU humanitarian aid in particular. Report: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/policies/consensus/eurobarometer_en.pdf
Aggregated figure, as multiple mentions were possible: 15% spontaneously name the EU, 5% the European Commission and 4% ECHO.
The EU is de facto not a provider of humanitarian aid on the ground but the Commission calls itself an "active donor" and ECHO experts are permanently based in humanitarian crisis hotspots around the world.
57% in 2006 (and 31% in 2001) but the percentage rates cannot be compared as the order of questions changed.
In 2006, the question asked was: "Could you please name some organizations or institutions involved in or funding humanitarian aid?". This question was perceived as being rather complicated which led to a split into two questions in the 2010 survey: (QB1.) "Can you name some organizations involved in providing humanitarian aid? By providing aid, we mean that they provide on the ground support."; (QB2.) "And now, can you name any organizations that are funding humanitarian aid? By funding, we mean that they provide financial support to humanitarian aid."
2006 figures were based on a different version of the question, reading: "Could you please name some organizations or institutions involved in or funding humanitarian aid?. Considered by the pollster as too complicated, the question was transformed into two for the 2010 survey. Therefore, these figures should not be strictly compared to the 2010 figures.