EU citizens strongly support cooperating with partner countries and youth to reduce poverty
The latest Eurobarometer survey on development cooperation shows that almost nine in ten EU citizens say it is important to partner with countries outside the EU to reduce poverty.
The global pandemic has not shaken citizens’ support for the EU’s work in international development and the results confirm a solid trend over recent years, meaning cooperation with partner countries remains one of the most positively perceived EU policies.
Commenting on the results, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “COVID-19 has like an x-ray revealed weaknesses such as inequalities and at the same time it has put back on the table the strength of multilateral cooperation to address global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. I am happy to see these very positive results reflecting the best of Europe’s values: a spirit of global solidarity even when times are tough. I am also pleased to see that people understand that a prosperous, peaceful and resilient Africa is important for the EU, and that young people are the change agents and our essential partners.”
Health moves to the top of the list of pressing challenges
One of the key findings from the survey is the increased concern about health, that has been identified as the most pressing challenge for the future of developing countries by 36%, 5 points more than in 2019.
In the context of increased public concern about COVID-19, the EU is currently focused on the vaccination of its citizens and on international efforts for global vaccination, with a major contribution to COVAX and by pre-financing the production of vaccines that are being exported to 34 countries. The EU is also strengthening health systems, building on the Team Europe global response package of over €40 billion of support to partner countries impacted by the pandemic.
The second most pressing challenge mentioned is education (35%), peace and security (32%), and economic growth and employment (29%). Around one quarter of respondents mentioned water and sanitation (27%), democracy and human rights (26%), and food security and agriculture (24%).
EU citizens overwhelmingly agree (88%) that the EU should tackle climate change and its effects in developing countries, whilst 77% strongly agree that tackling poverty in developing countries should be one of the main priorities of the EU and 61% say that EU development policy should also focus on reducing inequalities in developing countries. About a third of respondents (34%) think that EU development policy should only focus on helping developing countries to strengthen their economies.
Solid support for relations with Africa
On relations with Africa, more than four out of five (81%) EU citizens say that the EU should strengthen its partnerships with African countries to create jobs and ensure sustainable development on both continents. The result chimes well with the EU’s joint communication ‘Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa’, and the EU’s proposed five partnerships with Africa.
Young people play an important role
This year’s survey looked specifically at opinions about the role of young people in developing countries in tackling: i) environmental challenges and, ii) economic and social challenges.
This year’s survey asked respondents if they think young people in developing countries play an important role in tackling environmental challenges in those same developing countries. The results show that nine out of ten (90%) of EU citizens agree that young people are important in tackling environmental challenges in developing countries and 91% think that young people are crucial to tackling economic and social challenges in developing countries.