5th Mar 2021

Survey shows US losing interest in EU

  • Irish house decorated with US flag in honour of a visit by President Obama in May (Photo: EventPhotography)

People in the US and in Turkey have told a major pollster that relations with Asian countries are more important for their future than relations with the EU.

The Transatlantic Trends survey, published each year by the German Marshall Fund think-tank, noted that 51 percent of people in the US belive Asia is "more important" for their "national interests" than the EU.

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The pro-Asia feeling was even stronger among young Americans (over 70 percent in the 18 to 34 age range). The result is a massive change compared to 2004, when just 29 percent of US respondents overall plumped for Asia.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of Turkish people - the largest segment - said fellow Middle East countries are the most important in terms of economic co-operation and 42 percent in terms of security.

Forty eight percent of Turks still want to join the EU, 10 percent more than last year. But only 33 percent believe it will ever happen, while 36 percent think Turkey does not belong in the union because it is a predominantly Muslim country.

From the European point of view - based on surveys in 12 large member states - the US is still the old continent's main partner on the world stage.

Fifty two percent of Europeans said the US is more important than Asia, with France, Spain and Sweden the only countries on the pro-Asia side.

All the EU countries believed US President Barack Obama is doing a better job than their own governments on issues ranging from the economic crisis, to fighting terrorism or the wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

Fifty four percent of Europeans also said that US leadership in world affairs is "desirable".

Just 26 percent of people in the EU believe Turkey should join the union, while almost one in three Europeans said it is too Muslim, too poor and has too many people to become a member.

Other findings of note include: More than half of Europeans (53%) said using the euro is or will be bad for their economies and Germany is the only EU country happy to hand over more sovereign powers to EU institutions to fight the economic crisis.

On the Middle East: Americans believed pressure should be put on Palestinians to promote peace while Europeans felt Israel has the lion's share of responsibility; most Europeans (54%) were pessimistic about future stability in Libya; and two out of three Americans and Europeans want to reduce troops in Afghanistan.

The transatlantic military alliance, Nato, was considered "essential" by 62 percent of all American and European respondents.

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