The European Union wants to increase the public profile of ECHO.
A public opinion survey conducted in all the Member States revealed that, while there was a high general awareness among people about the humanitarian work of the EU, very few knew about the creation of ECHO.
Those questioned were keen to receive more information about the Unions emergency relief work, and nearly 50% wanted an increase in humanitarian aid expenditure, with only 5.1% and 2.2% respectively suggesting that it should be reduced or stopped. Interestingly, 60% felt that the Union should become directly involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid, rather than delegating implementation to NGOs and the UN.
This would imply a need for expansion of ECHO capacity and careful review of the operational and financial comparative advantage offered by the EU.
The EU was seen by many (41.3%) as the most desirable channel for bilateral humanitarian assistance, with only 15% of those questioned suggesting that individual Member States would be more effective.
Despite the expressed preferences of the European public, it remains to be seen whether bilateral donors will be willing to reduce the visibility of their own programmes and hand over more of the political rewards of humanitarian action to the EU.