Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What Do Europeans Really Think of Aid for Poor Countries?

October 16, 2012

It should come as no surprise that food crises and hunger shortages continue to wreak havoc on some of the poorest countries in the world. But, according to a new survey, despite difficult economic times, Europeans are still overwhelmingly committed to helping poorer countries. A new survey of European Union residents reveals that even an economic crisis doesn't dampen Europeans' support for aid. Eighty-five percent of Europeans say that Europe should continue helping developing countries - primarily those, however, that are affected by a natural crisis or a conflict. In fact, a majority of those feel that aid should increase.

"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..." said EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs.

When you look at what residents of Spain and Greece, for example, have gone through over the last year, the results particularly astound. One finding of the survey?

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.

On the other hand, the majority of respondents want to see emerging economies including Brazil, India, and China cut off from aid.

In the midst of extremely challenging economic times, these results stand out. Countries like Mali, for example continue to suffer from a food crisis of immense proportions. When you look in the faces of children, and families, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, it's easier to see how Europeans do not want to turn their backs.

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