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Despite New Leaders In Europe, New U.S. President On Horizon, Publics Still Cautious On Closer Relations

Press Release by German Marshall Fund

 Survey shows Americans and Europeans share concerns on energy and terrorism, worries of Russia, China; divided on use of force in Iran and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, DC, & BRUSSELS (September 6, 2007) - A survey released today shows that, despite new leaders in Great Britain, France, and Germany pledging to work with the United States, public expectations for a renewed transatlantic partnership continue to lag behind leaders' rhetoric.

Gordon Brown in the U.K., Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and Angela Merkel in Germany have all pledged to improve ties to the United States, and many observers see the 2008 U.S. presidential election as a chance for a renewed relationship between the United States and Europe. Transatlantic Trends 2007 ( shows that regardless of who is elected in 2008, more than a third of Europeans (35%) feel that relations will improve, while 46% believe relations will remain the same. In the United States, more Americans feel relations will improve after the 2008 elections (42%), compared with 37% who feel relations will stay the same regardless of who is elected.  There is, however, a significant difference in opinion among Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. More Democrats (58%) feel relations will improve with a new president, compared with only 26% of Republicans.  A majority of Republicans (54%) feel that relations will remain the same.

"As we look ahead to 2008, it will take more than changes in leadership to mend past rifts," said Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. "Greater openness and a willingness to work together across the Atlantic will be needed as the world continues to struggle with an increase in global threats."

Transatlantic Trends 2007 - a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo in Turin, Italy, with additional support from the Fundação Luso-Americana (Portugal), the Fundación BBVA (Spain), and the Tipping Point Foundation (Bulgaria) - measures broad public opinion in the United States and 12 European countries and gauges transatlantic relations.  For the sixth consecutive year, participants were asked their views on each other and on global threats, foreign policy objectives, world leadership, and multilateral institutions.

There was an overall rise in threat perceptions among Europeans, nearing American levels in many cases. Europeans felt most likely to be personally affected by global warming (85%), energy dependence (78%), and international terrorism (66%). Americans felt most likely to be personally affected by energy dependence (88%), an economic downturn (80%), and international terrorism (74%).  54% of Americans but 38% of Europeans feel that the best approach to ensuring a stable supply of energy is by reducing energy dependence on other countries even if that means paying a higher price, while 24% of Americans and 31% of Europeans feel that the best approach is to increase cooperation with energy-producing countries even if their governments are undemocratic. 54% of Republicans and 49% of Democrats agree that the United States should reduce its dependence on energy-producing countries.  

Majorities of both Americans and Europeans agree we should do more to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. Should an increase in diplomatic pressure on Iran fail, 47% percent of Americans feel that the option of military force should be maintained should diplomacy fail, compared with 32% who felt it should be ruled out.  Just 18% of Europeans feel the military option should be maintained, and 47% feel it should not.  Democrats (35% support) and Republicans (65%) in the United States also are divided on the military option. Most Europeans (64%) and Americans (64%) support contributing troops to international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, but differ on whether their troops should combat the Taliban (68% of Americans approve, 30% of Europeans).

Americans (79%) and Europeans (65%) express concern about Russia's role in providing weapons to the Middle East, its weakening democracy (75% of Americans, 57% of Europeans); and its role as an energy provider (58% of Americans, 59% of Europeans).  Americans and Europeans (54% and 48%, respectively) view China more as an economic threat than as an economic opportunity.  By contrast, more Americans (50%) than Europeans (32%) viewed China as a military threat.

37% percent of Americans thought the United States should establish democracy abroad, a drop of eight percentage points from last year and 15 points since 2005.  Compared to 2005, Republican support has declined from 76% to 53%, and Democratic support from 43% to 31%. When asked whether they feel it should be the role of the European Union to help establish democracy in other countries, 71% of Europeans (EU11) [1] agreed. 

Europeans have remained critical of President Bush and his international policies (77% disapproval compared to 17% approval). There has been a consistent 20-percentage-point gap between European approval for Bush's international policies and the European public's desire for U.S. leadership in global affairs, suggesting that, while views of the United States are influenced by views of the President's policies, Europeans continue to distinguish between them.  When asked to choose the most important factor behind the decline in transatlantic relations, Europeans were divided between the U.S.'s management of the Iraq war (38%) and Bush himself (34%).

The majority of Europeans (88%, EU11) feel that the EU should take greater responsibility for global threats, with a majority feeling that should happen in partnership with the United States (54%), compared with 43% who feel the EU should address global threats independently from the United StatesFrance was the only country with a majority (58%) who feels the EU would do better to address global threats alone. Of those Europeans who feel the EU should take greater responsibility, top support was for more money on aid for development (84%), the use of trade to influence other countries (74%), and committing troops for peacekeeping missions (68%). There was little support (20%) for committing troops for combat missions.

 "At last, the EU saw the end of the ‘period of reflection' that followed the failed referenda on the European Constitutional Treaty," said Piero Gastaldo, secretary general of the Compagnia di San Paolo. "Thanks to the agreement on treaty reform reached in June by the European Council, the EU is likely to get new tools to take responsibility, together with the U.S., for the critical issues that will remain even after the end of the Bush Administration."

Continuing its cooling since 2004, Turkish "warmth" toward the United States (on a 100-point "thermometer" scale) declined from 28 degrees in 2004 and 20 in 2006 to 11 in 2007, and toward the European Union from 52 degrees in 2004 and 45 in 2006 to 26 in 2007.  Turkish warmth toward Iran, which had risen last year, fell from 43 degrees to 30, and Turkey is the cooler toward China (28 degrees) and Russia (21 degrees) than is any other surveyed country. The percentage of Turkish respondents who view EU membership as a good thing remains the largest group (40%) but continued to decline - a drop of 14 percentage points from last year (54%) and 33 points lower than in 2004 (73%). The largest percentage of Europeans (EU11) continue to feel it would be neither good nor bad (42%). When asked how likely it is that Turkey will join the European Union, 56% of Europeans (EU11) felt it is likely that Turkey will join, compared with only 26% of Turkish respondents who agreed.

For the full report and top-line data, see


Transatlantic Trends is a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States ( and the Compagnia di San Paolo ( with additional support from Fundação Luso-Americana (, Fundación BBVA (, and the Tipping Point Foundation.

TNS Opinion conducted the survey and collected the data from the United States and 12 European countries: Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria.  Interviews were conducted by telephone using CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews) in all countries except Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania (where lower telephone penetration necessitates face-to-face interviews), between June 4 and June 23, 2007. In each country, a random sample of approximately 1,000 men and women, 18 years of age and older were interviewed.  The margin of error is plus/minus 3 percentage points.

[1] All data refer to the 12 European countries surveyed (E12) - Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria - unless otherwise noted.  EU11 refers to current EU members.

Washington/U.S. Contacts:
Will Bohlen: 202 745 6691 (o)
Maureen Golga: 202 585 2097 (o)

... Payvand News - 9/6/07 ... --

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