A closer look at EU public perception of aid

Photo by: European Commission

How does the European public feel about development and increasing the European Union’s aid budget?

It’s a question worth asking as top EU officials and other international leaders gather for the 2012 European Development Days in Brussels, Belgium. A survey commissioned by the Directorate-General Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid provides a closer look.

The so-called Eurobarometer found strong support for development work in general, with 85 percent of respondents saying it’s important to help developing countries.

It also found that 49 percent of Europeans believe the European Union should keep existing commitments to increase its aid budget. Meanwhile, 12 percent thinks the bloc could do more and should surpass these current commitments.

Some countries saw an increase in the number of their citizens who believe the European Union should cap or decrease its aid spending. These include Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, Slovakia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

On priority sectors for aid, human rights issues are perceived the most important, followed by education and health.

As for recipient countries, the majority of respondents think the European Union should prioritize fragile countries, including those affected by conflict or natural disasters. More than half also think the bloc should stop providing aid to emerging economies.

The survey, which was conducted by TNS Opinion & Social in June, also found that Europeans support private sector engagement in development activities. At least 81 percent of the respondents believe private firms have a positive role in developing countries, particularly in the areas of jobs creation and economic growth. A similar percentage did stress that private firms have ethical and social responsibilities when engaging with developing countries.

Private sector engagement is one three central themes of EDD 2012, which kicked off Oct. 16. The other two are food security and inclusive growth.

Check our EDD12 topic page in the coming days for our exclusive video interviews from Brussels. Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.