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NEWS | Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Low level of awareness of EU’s development policies

Matthew Vella

Europe’s new member states have a low level of awareness of the European Union’s development aid issues, a Eurobarometer study has revealed – two out of every three Maltese however are aware of the bloc’s commitment to help poor people in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The study has revealed the need for better communication with people from the EU’s new member states to be made aware of development issues, a fairly new subject in Malta which only recently launched its Overseas Development Aid policy paper.
According to the study, 64% of Maltese respondents are aware of the existence of EU development aid – above the 55% average for the 12 new members.
But the Maltese are the only country to believe that it’s the USA to be the largest global donor of aid. It actually comes second to the EU.
In general, a considerable majority of respondents (57%) from the new member state said they had no idea how much the EU spent per citizen – €100 per capita – on development aid.
Journalists were named as the most trusted sources of information concerning development aid issues.
Development aid forms part of the global mission to reduce poverty in the Third World, which is the first of the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals. While 58% of Maltese respondents say poverty reduction is the most important priority in EU development aid, 32% cited helping developing countries to develop their trade in goods and services – twice the EU average.
A yearly appointment for the Maltese government is its annual contribution in overseas development aid. The foreign ministry has in the past rebutted NGOs’ accusations that Malta’s aid being ineffectual or pledged only on condition of having migrants repatriated.
On the latter, Frendo has said the Cotonou Agreement allows such conditionality, namely Article 13 which binds signatories to accept back illegal immigrants.
Eurodad, an umbrella organisation for development NGOs, has also claimed Malta’s development aid is inflated by spending on student scholarships – rather than directly addressing the causes of poverty in developing countries.
According to the European Commission’s April 2007 figures, Malta spent EUR7 million or 0.15% of GNI on ODA in 2006 – less than what it contributed in 2004, when it spent 0.18% in overseas development aid. The figure then was claimed to be inflated by over 40 per cent, according to Eurodad.

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