Europeans' views

What do European citizens' think of development, cooperation and aid? An analysis by Eurobarometer 

The European Union and its Member States are the biggest global donor of official development aid, contributing 58.2 billion euros in 2014.

The latest Eurobarometer's survey, commissioned by the European Commission’s DG DEVCO, was carried out in the 28 Member States of the EU and investigated Europeans awareness of, and opinions about a range of development related topics. Its results were published in February 2016 and tackled:

• the attitudes of Europeans towards importance in helping people in developing countries, as well as their views on the challenges for the future of these countries, tackling poverty, and the effectiveness of measures to reduce poverty in developing countries;

• the personal commitment and involvement of Europeans in helping developing countries;

• Europeans’ attitude to development aid as a way to address 'irregular migration';

• the awareness of the international community’s commitment to sustainable development;

• Europeans’ awareness of the “European Year for Development – 2015” and their level of information about development aid in general.

Main Findings:

The results of the survey highlight that attitudes towards development aid have generally become increasingly positive over the past year. There is growing awareness about development and development aid across Europe. Almost one out of five respondents were aware that 2015 was the European Year for Development, while 36% have heard of the Sustainable Development Goals from the 2030 Agenda for Development.

Continuing the trend first observed in 2014, respondents are increasingly of the opinion that it is important to help people in developing countries. In fact, in 12 Member States at least nine out of ten agree tackling poverty in developing countries should be one of the main priorities of the EU, and almost all respondents agree in Sweden (98%) and Luxembourg (96%). Respondents are also more likely to agree this should be one of the main priorities of the EU and of national governments than they were in 2014. Most also agree helping developing countries would benefit Europeans and that providing aid is in the EU’s own interest.

Despite, or perhaps because of the current refugee and migration crisis, the very high support for continuous and even growing engagement in and assistance to developing countries is increasing, with almost three quarters of respondents agreeing that development aid is an effective way to tackle irregular migration. In a related issue, the continuing and escalating unrest in the Middle East may well have influenced views on the priority areas for development: peace and security is now more likely to be considered as a pressing challenge for developing countries than health.

Just over half of all respondents agree that individuals can play a role in tackling poverty, and one third of respondents are personally involved in helping developing countries, usually by donating to organisations that help these countries (although young people are less likely to be engaged in this way than older age groups). Respondents are also positive about the efficacy of official development aid as an effective means to tackle poverty, as well as about the impact of volunteering or donating to organisations. Half are willing to pay more for products from developing countries to support people there.

In general, opinions about development aid do not vary by clear geographic clusters, with the most positive respondents about development issues scattered across the EU in countries including Sweden, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Spain. In addition, those in Italy and France have become more positive about many aspects of development aid since the last survey in 2014.

See here the full Report, the factsheets and the Summary of the study