More than half of Europeans believe that Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s United States presidential election will make a positive difference to their countries and some 57 percent said his win will be beneficial for the European Union, according to a new survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations.
But, the ECFR said, although a majority of Europeans are happy with Biden’s election, many do not trust the nation’s electorate not to vote for another candidate similar to his predecessor Donald Trump in four years’ time.
Looking at the results for Europe as a whole, 32 percent of all respondents agreed that, after voting for Trump in 2016, US voters cannot be trusted.
The pan-European survey questioned more than 15,000 people in 11 countries, with six in 10 Europeans believing that the US political system is broken and that China will become a stronger power than the US in the next decade.
Gayle Allard, a professor of economic environment and country analysis at IE Business School in Madrid, said that, over time, there has been a steady decline in European confidence in the US.
“This is pretty natural: Europeans were utterly dependent on the US after World War II, but as time has gone on and European integration has progressed, naturally they have begun to stand on their own two feet and have developed their own, united identity as Europeans, which is a very positive development,” Allard said.
“There has also been a fairly steady divergence between the US and Europe since the (former president Ronald) Reagan years (of the 1980s), with the US leaning toward a less regulated, free-market model and Europe tending more toward regulation and heavy government involvement in the economy. They do not see the world in exactly the same way, despite all of the core values that they share and their common heritage.”
The survey found that two-thirds of Europeans polled said that Europe cannot always rely on the US to defend it, and that it needs to look after its own defense capabilities.
The ECFR said the tumultuous Trump presidency has deeply affected the transatlantic relationship, to the point that there is now deep scepticism within the bloc over whether Biden can stop the decline of the US on the global stage.
Allard said much damage has been done to the US image during the last four years.
“Trump stated publicly that he did not support many of the institutions that we designed together and which united us: the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, NATO.
“He broke off trade talks with Europe and imposed tariffs,” she said. “He demanded, rightly, but non-diplomatically, that Europe take more responsibility for its own defense spending. He personally offended many European leaders. Four years is a long time for such poor treatment, and it has done much harm to the US image.”
Europeans believe that the isolationism and unpredictability of the Trump administration, coupled with deep internal issues within the US, will impact on Biden and his ability to recast the nation’s global image, according to the report.
“I think Europeans will respond once they see the Americans strongly committed once again to the common agreements we had all worked hard on in the past,” Allard said.