31st May 2020

Europeans question American global role

Europeans have grown more critical of US global leadership, while American support for a strong European partner has increased over the last year.

This is the conclusion of the Transatlantic Trends 2003 survey, which was conducted in June 2003 by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo, based in Turin, Italy.

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  • Both Americans (70%) and Europeans (74%) opted for strengthening the United Nations (Photo: EUobserver)

8,000 individuals from the United States and seven European countries: Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal were polled.

Not all favour strong US leadership

The poll showed that Europeans starkly question US global leadership. Overall, only 45% of Europeans - a large drop-off compared to 64% in 2002 - see strong US leadership as desirable.

In contrast, 80% of Americans, consistent with last year's 79% continue to see strong EU leadership as desirable.

While majorities in France (70%), Germany (50%) and Italy (50%) believe global US leadership is "undesirable", the contrary feeling is found amongst the British, the Dutch, and the Poles. Poland appears to be an American stronghold in Europe, with 58% supportive of the US President George Bushs' handling of international policy.

71% of Europeans want to see the European Union become a superpower like the United States in order for the EU to cooperate better, rather than compete, with the US.

However, 51% of those resist increased military spending, the survey found.

Similar view of threats

The global threats are seen on both sides of the Atlantic as international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and Islamic fundamentalism.

But Americans and Europeans hold different opinions on how to respond to these threats.

Americans were more likely than Europeans to support the use of military force to rid countries of weapons of mass destruction and to bypass the United Nations if vital national interests are at stake.

Support for strengthening the UN

The Americans expressed record support for US involvement overseas. The highest percentage of Americans since 1947 (77%) said they were in favour of an active American role in world affairs.

On questions regarding the role of international organisations in addressing disputes, both Americans (70%) and Europeans (74%) opted for strengthening the United Nations, but a majority of Americans (57%) supported bypassing the world body if US vital interests are at stake.

A majority of Europeans (53%), however, would not favour bypassing the UN if their interests were at stake.

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