News Item, , Berlin: The United States is losing its position as the world’s sole superpower – only a minority of Germans still see their country as a global player

Germans support the EU, the U.N. and multilateral cooperation – Striking differences between perceptions in Germany and in other countries

Prof. Werner Weidenfeld, member of the Executive Board of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, in a conversation with journalists


A majority of Germans do not consider their country to be a global power, nor do they expect it to be in the future. They do believe, however, that the European Union will eventually take on that role, and most are in favor of a multilateral world order under the leadership of the United Nations. These are the results of an internationally representative study conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. The study indicates that 40 percent of Germans currently regard their country as a world power, with an equal proportion believing that Germany will maintain that position for the next 15 years. Ninety percent of Germans agree that the United States is the unchallenged global leader. In second place is the European Union with 75 percent. Next come China with 68 percent, the U.N. with 66 percent, Japan with 57 percent and Russia with 50 percent.

The Germans surveyed expect to see only a slight shift in favor of China by the year 2020. The share of those believing that the U.S. will be a global power at that time drops to 82 percent, and China follows close behind with 75 percent. The importance of the EU, the U.N., Japan and Russia is expected to remain unchanged.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung survey, in which more than 10,000 people were interviewed worldwide, shows a clear gap between the views of Germans and people in most other countries regarding world powers. Indeed, the EU was regarded as a global player by only 32 percent of those surveyed overall, and only 30 percent expect it to have that position in the year 2020. The United States, Russia and Japan were similar to Germany in their assessment of the EU as a major player, while the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians expected the EU to be relatively insignificant. Germany itself is considered by only 26 percent of the international respondents to be a global power, and the trend is downward; the highest figures were found among respondents in Great Britain and Russia.