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EU expected to become superpower

Miercuri, 24 octombrie 2007, 0:00

One in every three citizens around the world (35%) would like to see the European Union's influence to grow, a global public opinion survey by Gallup International - conducted in collaboration with the European Council on Foreign Relation (ECFR) - shows. "There is growing public support for a more multi-polar world", a press release of the European Council on Foreign Relations reads.

In an ECFR policy brief, to be issued on 24 October, authors Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard point out that "the EU is unique among the four big powers (the other three being the US, China and Russia) in that no-one wants to balance its rise".

The 2007 edition of Voice of the People - the world's largest survey this year based on interviews with 57,000 people from 52 countries - shows that world citizens most disapprove of an expansion of Iranian and US power. 39% of respondents would like to see Iran's power decrease, while 37% would like less US power in the world.

According to the survey, Russia and China also provoke more negative than positive reactions. Whilst 23% and 24% of respondents, respectively, would like Russia's and China's importance to increase, 29% and 32% believe the world would benefit from a decline in their power.

Military powers are also far from having a good image. The survey indicates that "the public does not yearn for a world order where US hegemony is simply replaced by rivalry between other military powers such as Russia and China".

An increasing support is shown to countries like India, South Africa and Brazil, which received a positive overall approval rating in the survey, and are referred to as 'herbivorous powers' by Krastev and Leonard.

While most European countries are keen on an increasing global role for the EU, citizens in the UK citizen are ambivalent about the issue. The UK scored the lowest within the EU in terms of its support for increased EU influence: only 32% of UK respondents support this idea, while 24% think the EU's global role should decrease.

In contrast to that, 65% of France's population supports an increased EU role, while 69% of Greek, and 56% of Spanish and Italian citizens share this view.

In the EU's neighbourhood, Albania, Moldova and Kosovo scored highest in their support for a stronger EU role (76%, 63% and 55% respectively). However, the survey found that more Ukrainians support an increased role for Russia (45%) than they do for the EU (41%) - which the authors argue could be linked to the EU's "foot-dragging on enlargement".

The survey also found more negative than positive opinions towards the EU in Turkey and Croatia - two EU candidates - where 45% and 36% of citizens, respectively, think that the EU should be less influential, against 9% and 26% who hold the opposite view.

Turkey is also amongst the countries with highest values of negative attitudes to the influence of the US (56% for the decrease, and barely 4% for an increase), as well as of Russia (43% for decrease and 4% for increase). Overall, the influence of the US is most welcome on the African continent (37%) and in Russia ((26%).

However, the positive Russian attitude is not reciprocated in the US, where 34% of respondents want Russian power to decrease. Over half of all respondents in Canada (54%) and Latin America (53%) are opposed to increasing US influence.

While 51% of respondents in Western Europe (i.e. countries that were in the EU prior to the 2004 enlargement) oppose an increase in US power, in Central and Eastern Europe the negative view is only shared by some 37%.

The survey also shows that as regards the US, the countries with the most positive view of expanding US power are Albania (71%), Kosovo (61%), Panama (45%), and the US itself (45%). Conversely, the countries with the highest proportions of people declaring that the US should have less influence are Bosnia and Herzegovina (80%), Luxembourg (74%), Greece (73%), Serbia (72%), and Finland (71%).

Krastev and Leonard argue that the EU's increase in power is supported by many former European colonies, demonstrating that the colonial legacy of EU member states is declining in importance. They also point to worrying trends for the EU, such as a growing resistance to EU influence in places where the Union acts as a quasi-colonial power, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In Kosovo, the EU's increasing influence is desired by 55%, while that of the US is wished for by 61%.

With reference to Iran, the only two countries producing more positive than negative answers are Senegal (31%), and Hong Kong (28%). In the world, Luxembourg citizens are the most reluctant about Iran's rise (72%), followed by 64% of Dutch and 57% of US citizens. Significant proportions of people in the Scandinavian countries (between 4-6 in ten) share this view.

Finally, some of China's neighbours oppose the idea of an increase of its power. Considerable proportions of citizens in India, Philippines (both 42%), Japan (39%) and South Korea (34%) think it would be best for the world if China had less influence. Nearly half of US respondents (45%) feel the same way.

Conversely, three quarters of citizens in Hong Kong (75%) would like to have a more influential China.

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