The survey, called Transatlantic Trends 2003, was conducted in June 2003 with 8,000 Americans and Europeans by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo, based in Turin, Italy. Participants were asked how they view international threats, the use of force, global leadership, multi-laterism and areas of conflict such as the Middle East. Europeans question the role of U.S. as superpower, while Americans support U.S. involvement overseas in record numbers.
When asked about how to respond to global threats Americans and Europeans expressed sharp differences. 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. Americans also were more willing to exert pressure on Palestinians and Arab states than were Europeans.
The poll showed that Americans and Europeans share similar views about global threats. International terrorism, weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iran, Islamic fundamentalism and the Israeli-Arab conflict ranked as their top five concerns. Americans and Europeans have about the same level of coolness toward Iran, North Korea and Syria.
The poll showed that Europeans starkly question U.S. global leadership. Throughout Europe, the majority expressed disapproval of current U.S. foreign policy, with disapproval ratings among Italians and Germans soaring up 20 points from the Worldviews 2002 survey, a similar poll conducted last year by the German Marshall Fund and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Majorities in France [70%], Germany [50%] and Italy [50%] believe global U.S. leadership is "undesirable."
Germany showed the most dramatic change in public opinion toward the United States. When asked whether the European Union [EU] or United States was more important to their vital interests, 81% of Germans [as compared to 55% in 2002], opted for the EU while 9% [as compared to 20% in 2002] chose the U.S.
Europeans have grown more critical of U.S foreign policy, while Americans expressed record support for U.S. involvement overseas. The highest percentage of Americans since 1947 [77%] said they were in favour of an active U.S. role in world affairs. Support for isolationism was at a record low [15%]. In addition, most Americans [80%] said strong EU leadership was desirable.
"Overall, the events of the last year seem to have soured European opinion of the U.S and at the same time improved U.S. feeling about the EU. What I believe this apparent inconsistency is saying is that neither Europeans nor Americans want to go it alone or compete with each other on foreign policy. They both want to see a strong European Union and a U.S. superpower that works through multilateral institutions," said Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund.
"European citizens seem to be aware of the need for a strong, common international role of the EU. In fact, the public seem to be more aware of this need than many of their own governments," said Piero Gastaldo, Secretary General of the Compagnia di San Paolo.
For the full Key Findings report and top-line data, see www.gmfus.org/transatlantictrends.
Supporting Organizations: Transatlantic Trends is a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo. Support for the Portuguese section of the survey was provided by the Luso-American Foundation. Taylor Nelson Sofres [TNS SOFRES] conducted the survey and collected the data from the United States and seven European countries: Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal.
Source: German Marshall Fund of the United States CONTACT: U.S. Contacts: Abigail Golden-Vazquez of German Marshall Fund of the United States, +1-202-745-6689, +1-845-893-1821, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Stephanie Bluma, +1-202-585-2755, email@example.com, for German Marshall Fund of the United States; or European Contact: Olivia Lawe-Davies, +32 2 743 42 11, +32 486 363 390, firstname.lastname@example.org, for German Marshall Fund of the United States Web site: http://www.gmfus.org/ and http://www.gmfus.org/transatlantictrends.
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