News Item, , Brussels/Gütersloh: Europeans and Americans want more transatlantic cooperation

Results of a representative survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung

The broad majority of Americans and Europeans favor closer transatlantic cooperation according to a representative opinion poll conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on the eve of the US-EU summit this coming Monday. People on both sides of the Atlantic agree that the key issues are action on climate change, prevention of further nuclear proliferation, ensuring a secure energy supply and the international promotion of democracy.

Among the Europeans surveyed, the Germans seem to have best overcome the tensions in transatlantic relations following the Iraq conflict. They seem particularly open to the idea of closer cooperation with the US. About 90 percent of Germans support greater cooperation on climate change, while the numbers supporting greater coordination in the promotion of democracy worldwide and in securing energy supplies are 84 percent and 80 percent respectively. There is also broad backing for a shared approach to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in states such as Iran, and bringing peace to the Middle East.

Gaps are opening up on the European continent in relation to willingness to cooperate with the US. Cooperation is something positively welcomed by the Germans, Finns and Spanish, for example. Other Western European allies of the US are more circumspect, among them Austria, Italy and, above all, France. Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria are also much less enthusiastic about cooperation. The Americans in turn, express great interest in entering into dialogue with Europe. Around 80 percent of those surveyed favored greater levels of coordination on climate protection, the control of potential nuclear proliferation in countries like Iran, and ensuring a secure energy supply. Action on climate change is at the top of the European agenda, while Americans are more concerned about secure energy supply and the nuclear question (i.e. Iran). However, awareness of climate protection has risen in the US, ranking third in the list of major concerns at 78 percent. 66 percent of Europeans and 75 of US citizens are in favor of greater cooperation in stabilizing the Middle East. Likewise, a majority on both sides of the Atlantic would like to see the mutual abolition of trade restrictions. Only a tiny number of respondents were against closer cooperation between Europeans and Americans. This figure was 4 percent in Europe and just 1 percent in the US.

Dr. Gregor Peter Schmitz, Director of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Brussels Project Office, believes that the survey results reflect the willingness to place transatlantic relations on a new footing: "The period of uncertain reflection on the state of relations following the discord over the Iraq conflict has been replaced with a pragmatic rapprochement. Europeans and Americans are now less inclined to take this relationship for granted and are mapping out specific areas for greater cooperation." According to Dr. Schmitz, Americans are becoming more interested in cooperation. He believes this is explained by the growing awareness in Washington of the limitations of military resources and the erosion of American "soft power". In Schmitz's analysis, "the openness to entering into dialogue with Europe is particularly pronounced in areas where US society has not yet found an agreed strategy of its own."

The results of the survey of 12,000 citizens in the US and in 11 European countries conducted by TNS EMNID on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung in March also provide the basis for the discussions by the "Brussels Forum". This high-powered transatlantic strategy forum will be hosted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung together with the German Marshall Fund, Daimler-Chrysler and other partners this coming weekend in Brussels. Among other issues, the forum will discuss the topics on the agenda for the following Monday's EU-US summit between EU President Angela Merkel, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and US President George W. Bush in Washington.

You can download a summary of the opinion poll and all survey data.