Transatlantic survey: Europeans and Americans fearful of “Trump factor”

Fewer Europeans now rate the United States as a valuable ally than vice versa: 73% of Americans, and 67% of Europeans consider their counterpart a valuable ally.

  • Most Europeans (55%) think Trump will damage their relations with the US.
  • Americans and Europeans agree on the top four policy areas where they expect Trump to fail:
    (1) social equality for women and minorities,
    (2) poverty
    (3) climate change, and
    (4) human rights.
  • Europeans and Americans are optimistic about US relations with Russia, and pessimistic about relations with China, under a Trump presidency

Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. Many observers expect relations between the United States and Europe to come under pressure, given Trump’s intent to secure a better deal from US allies. But according to a study by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in cooperation with Dalia Research, a vast majority of Americans (73%) see Europe as a valuable ally, despite Trump’s rhetoric. Europeans, who have traditionally depended to a greater extent than Americans on the transatlantic alliance, now take a less favourable view of their counterpart, with 67% seeing the US as valuable. Despite differences, this suggest that the transatlantic partnership is sees as important by a majority of the people.

To find out about the strength of the transatlantic alliance, the representative ECFR/Dalia study provides further insights into the expectations and concerns of Americans and Europeans regarding President Donald J. Trump and his administration. In November and December 2016 Dalia Research interviewed a total of 1.052 US-citizens and 11.283 Europeans across all 28 EU Member States.

Europeans and Americans differ in their perception of soon-to-be ex-president Barack Obama’s impact on their relationship, and the potential impact of a Trump presidency. Obama has significantly improved European’s perceptions of relations between them and the United States: 56% believe things have gotten better, compared to 40% of Americans. A majority in Europe fears negative ramifications for their relationship with the US during the upcoming Trump presidency. More than half of Europeans (55%) expect relations to get worse, whereas only 40% of the American public think so.

Europeans and Americans do agree, however, on the foreign policy issues where they expect Trump to do the wrong thing. Asked about 14 foreign policy issues, both transatlantic sides converge around four: Social equality (EU: 39% US: 33%), climate change (EU: 33% US: 29%), global poverty (EU: 33% US: 30%) and the protection of human rights (EU: 32% US: 27%).

Europeans and Americans also largely agree on the areas where Trump might do the right thing. They expect these areas to be addressing terrorism (43% of Americans, 33% of Europeans), the fight against ISIS (41% of Americans, 33% of Europeans) and the global economy (33% of Americans, 20% of Europeans).

Americans and Europeans expect the most likely negative impact of Trump in diplomatic relations to be with China, and the most likely positive impact to be relations with Russia: 35% of Americans and 31% of Europeans think Trump will do the wrong thing in regards to China. 39% of Americans and 35% of Europeans think Trump will do the right thing in regards to Russia.

“The potential for a transatlantic rift is largest among Europe’s Big-3”, says Josef Janning, ECFR senior Policy Fellow and head of the Rethink Europe project under which the survey was conducted. “Nowhere does scepticism of the Trump administration run deeper than in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Poland or Italy, for example, show much less critical views.” Janning expects this gap to be instrumentalized both by smaller European countries making advances to the Trump administration and by US policy: “Trump will take a bilateral approach to Europe, seeking to exploit the rivalries and ambitions among countries.” Janning adds that previous administrations have acted in similar ways, but unlike Trump were constrained by their overall belief in the benefits of closer European cooperation.

This transatlantic survey reveals a surprising consensus on the assessment of what to expect from the Trump presidency. The transatlantic agenda will remain full with a number of issues to solve to mitigate expected tensions in the US-EU relations.

 

Notes to editors

About the survey 
The survey is part of ECFR’s research project Rethink: Europe on the future of Europe as a cohesive and capable international actor. The project is funded by Stiftung Mercator.   The findings were collected by Dalia Research as part of the “EuroPulse”, a quarterly survey across 28 EU countries and 21 languages. In every “wave” of the survey, Dalia interviews a census-representative sample of more than 10.000 Europeans to better understand EU-wide trends in public opinion, consumer attitudes and market developments. The survey setup treats the EU from a statistical and sampling perspective, as if it were one country.   The results are based on the most recent wave of “EuroPulse”, which was conducted between November 30, 2016 and December 10, 2016. The sample of n=11.282 was drawn across all 28 EU Member States and for the US a sample of n=1.052, taking into account current population distributions with regard to age (14-65 years), gender and region/country.  
An estimation of the overall design effect based on the distribution of weights was calculated at 1.42 at the global level for the EU sample, and at 1.15 for the US sample. Calculated for a sample of this size and considering the design-effect, the margin of error would be +/-1.1 % at a confidence level of 95%.

The summary statistics in an excel file with links to Infographics can be downloaded here.  

Request an interview
Josef Janning, ECFR senior Policy Fellow and head of the Rethink Europe project, is available for comment. To request an interview please contact Wiebke Ewering, Communications Officer, at wiebke.ewering@remove-this.ecfr.eu  

Call for researchers
To understand populism and assess the impact of the “Trump effect” on Europe, Dalia Research wants to pool brainpower and open a large dataset from the “EuroPulse” survey, which the ECFR study is part of, for free. In order to join researchers from Stanford, MIT, Princeton and Harvard, researchers and data journalists are invited to sign up to receive the dataset by emailing niklas.anzinger@remove-this.daliaresearch.com. Dalia will post analysis and visualizations of the data on its website.

Survey Questions

  1. Under President Barack Obama, do you think relations between the United States and Europe got…? (much better/a little better/stayed the same/a little worse/much worse /Don’t know)
  2. Under President Donald Trump, do you think relations between Europe and the United States will get…? (much better/a little better/stayed the same/a little worse/much worse/Don’t know) 
  3. Do you consider [the US] / [Europe] to be a valuable ally for Europe in international politics and global affairs? (Very much/Somewhat/Not very much/Not at all/Don’t know) 
  4. For which of the following foreign policy areas, if any, do you expect US President Donald Trump to do the RIGHT thing? (Select all that apply Anti-terrorism/The fight against ISIS/Islamic State/Global economy and international trade/Global Perception of America/Climate change and the environment/Iran’s nuclear program/North Korea’s nuclear program/Assistance to world’s poor/ International peace and conflict resolution/Protection of human rights/Social equality (e.g. for women, minorities)/Spread of democracy/The conflict in Syria/Other issues/None of these)
  5. For which of the following foreign policy areas, if any, do you expect US President Donald Trump to do the WRONG thing? (Select all that apply Anti-terrorism/The fight against ISIS/Islamic State/Global economy and international trade/Global Perception of America/Climate change and the environment/Iran’s nuclear program/North Korea’s nuclear program/Assistance to world’s poor/International peace and conflict resolution/Protection of human rights/Social equality (e.g. for women, minorities)/Spread of democracy/The conflict in Syria/Other issues/ None of these)
  6. For which of the following international relations, if any, do you expect US President Donald Trump to do the RIGHT thing? Relations with...(NATO/Europe/Russia/China/Israel/ None of these)
  7. For which of the following international relations, if any, do you expect US President Donald Trump to do the WRONG thing? Relations with...(NATO/Europe/Russia/China/Israel/ None of these)

About the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is an award-winning pan-European think-tank that aims to conduct cutting-edge independent research; provide a safe meeting space for policy-makers, activists and intellectuals to share ideas; offer a media platform to get Europeans talking about their role in the world. ECFR is an independent charity and funded from a variety of sources. For more details, go to www.ecfr.eu  

Contact
Wiebke Ewering, Communications Officer
Email: wiebke.ewering@remove-this.ecfr.eu
Phone: +49 (0) 30 325051016

About Dalia Research
Dalia Research was founded in Berlin in 2013 with a clear vision to utilize mobile technology to change the way attitudinal data is collected, analysed and presented. For more information about Dalia and its work, please visit: www.daliaresearch.com

For more information, please contact:
Anisa Holmes, Communications Manager
E-Mail: anisa.holmes@remove-this.daliaresearch.com
Phone: +49 30 695 995 90

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