CHINA / DIPLOMACY
GT survey: More Europeans unsatisfied with US-EU relations since Russia-Ukraine conflict breaks out
About 50% of Europeans believe US actions on Ukraine crisis will bring negative impact to Europe’s economy: Survey
Published: Jan 15, 2023 10:59 PM
EU flags are seen outside the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Jan 6, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

EU flags are seen outside the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Jan 6, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

The Global Times Research Center conducted a survey in 13 countries in Europe and Turkey to learn about Europeans' opinions on their relations with the US since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukraine conflict in February, 2022, as well as their concerns over the security situation of the continent and the energy and food crises. Data from 7,536 samples show that more Europeans are unsatisfied with their ties with the US and are concerned that US actions against Russia will bring negative impact to Europe's economy.  

The survey also found that although the people who are "unsatisfied" with Europe-US relations are more than those who find the ties with the US "satisfied," most Europeans believe that the US is dominating the transatlantic relations, and most Europeans have no confidence to have a more independent and autonomous strategy that could serve Europe's own interests rather than being dominated by Washington.

The Global Times Research Center conducted the survey in 12 different languages to cover permanent residents that are aged 18 and above across 13 European countries and Turkey, which is located at the junction of Europe and Asia. The survey received 7,536 samples from November 23 to December 22, 2022,and it includes 44 questions that are related to the security situation of Europe, and views on Europe-US relations, as well as the impacts brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Europe's internal and external strategies. 

The 14 countries are France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Serbia, Lithuania and Turkey.   

US Europe Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
US Europe Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Transatlantic relations


Among the participants from the 14 countries, 39 percent of them believe that the US is "dominating" the bilateral relations with their countries, and 23 percent of them consider their countries have an "equal partnership" with the US, and 12 percent believe their countries have "full independence and autonomy." 

On relations between Europe and the US, 32 percent of them believe that the US is dominating the Europe-US relations, and 30 percent consider Europe and the US have equal partnership, and less than 10 percent believes that Europe is fully dominating or have full independence and autonomy in the relationship. 

The survey has found that, on average, 32 percent of the participants are "unsatisfied" with the relations between their countries and the US, while 39 percent are "neutral," and 29 percent are "satisfied." When it comes to Europe-US relations, 31 percent are "unsatisfied," while 40 percent are "neutral," and 29 percent are "satisfied."

In general, the people who are not satisfied with the relations with the US are slightly more than those who are satisfied. Analysts said this shows that most Europeans are suffering from a dilemma when answering such question: On the one hand, the US is bullying European countries and meddling in European affairs frequently, and the US is using the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to undermine Europe's economy; but on the other hand, Europeans believe that their countries are too weak or too small to withstand huge crises and geopolitical conflict, so they have to rely on an external force, or a super power with similar ideology and values, to ensure their safety in the world that's getting increasingly turbulent. 

But on the questions about their countries' future relations with the US, 30 percent of them favor maintaining the status quo, 28 percent of them believe that they should stand closer with the US, and 22 percent of them consider that they should be more independent. 

Among the 14 countries, Poland is the one with more pro-US sentiment, with 60 percent of the Polish participants saying they're satisfied with the bilateral relations with the US, and 56 percent of them consider their country should have closer ties with the US in the future. More than 30 percent of participants from France (31 percent), Greece (37 percent) and Turkey (34 percent) believe that they should be more independent in the future bilateral ties. 

Analysts said Poland has benefited from the US anti-Russia strategy and has long-standing historical problems with Russia, so some countries with similar characteristics with Poland will welcome the US presence to contain Russia in the continent. But those major countries with leading role in the EU and bigger economic sizes like France and Germany will sense the competitive parts of the EU-US relations, so more people will hope the EU could be more independent, and countries like Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Turkey who are having stronger ties with Russia and culturally different from major Western powers will be even more cautious when dealing with the US. 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu meet in Ankara on June 8, 2022. Their discussions focused on a UN proposal to free Ukraine's Black Sea ports and allow 22 million tons of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out.Photo:VCG

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu meet in Ankara on June 8, 2022. Their discussions focused on a UN proposal to free Ukraine's Black Sea ports and allow 22 million tons of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out.Photo:VCG

On Russia-Ukraine conflict
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is the very issue that concerned Europeans most at the moment. The survey finds that 33 percent of the participants believe the US is playing a negative role in the Ukraine crisis, and 28 percent of them find their impression of the US is getting worse since the conflict breaks out. And 49 percent of the participants find US response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict will bring very negative or relatively negative impact to the European economy.  

The survey also finds that 26 percent of the participants believe that European countries are "not wise" to follow the US to sanction Russia due to the Ukraine crisis, while 23 percent said European countries are being forced to get involved, and 24 percent said the sanction is "wise." 

In countries like Greece, Hungary, Serbia, Italy and Turkey, the people who dislike the US role in the crisis are obviously more than the ones who are pro-US, and analysts said some of these countries are EU members, and Serbia is applying for the EU membership, while Turkey is a NATO member, so they will to some extent play special roles in the trilateral relations of the EU, the US and Russia.

Zhang Chao, an expert from the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that the Russia-Ukraine conflict provides new incentives for the development of the Europe-US ties, and the survey reflects that although most Europeans are not satisfied with US' role in Europe, the current situation has forced them to stand closer with the US, and the survey also shows that most Europeans have sensed the damages caused by the anti-Russia sanction. 

The survey results reflects the European public's judgement based on the current actual situation, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Since they feel the threat is right in front of them and they have a strong sense of crisis, they cannot be expected to think about the future in an absolute sensible way or independently deal with the crisis in an emergency status," Cui explained.

As for to what extent can the current public opinion affect the future relations among Europe, the US and Russia, Cui said the impact will depend on how the conflict will come to an end and on how the US and NATO will use the current public opinion and situation.

Cui said it's very challenging to predict the future development of relations among the EU, the US and Russia, which can be affected by the situation on the battle field, the diplomatic fallout, as well as the exchanges of interests. "For example, if we had a cease-fire at first, the public might tend to solve the issue in a diplomatic way rather than focusing on the security problem. Thus, they could be less reliable on the US and NATO."

The survey finds 37 percent of the participants among the 14 countries believe that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will end in 2023.