Europe seen as 4th leading economic power in new poll
By Brian Beary in Washington | Thursday 14 June 2012
Despite having the world’s largest gross domestic product, the EU is not perceived as being an economic heavyweight, a new poll from the Pew Research Centre in Washington DC shows. When respondents from 21 countries, including eight European ones
(1) were asked who the world’s leading economic power was, China came out on top, the United States in second, with Japan and the EU way behind in third and fourth place, respectively. Only 6% of French, 5% of Americans and 3% of British respondents put the EU in first place. The highest rating the EU received was from Germans, just 17% of whom put the EU on top. Most Europeans felt that China had eclipsed the US for the top spot, including 62% of Germans and 57% of Spanish.
The EU has seen a dip in its favourability rating since 2011, dropping from 55% to 50% among Americans, from 72% to 60% in Spain, and from 74% to 69% in Poland. The EU’s favourability increased slightly in Germany, however, from 66% to 68%. Among Europeans surveyed, the nation most negative about the EU were the Czechs, with only 34% having a favourable view, even lower than Greeks, 37% of whom had a favourable view. Asked if they had confidence in four major world leaders - Barack Obama (US), Angela Merkel (Germany), Ban Ki-moon (UN) and Vladimir Putin (Russia) - the German chancellor came in second place. Merkel scored especially high in Germany (77%) and France (70%), somewhat lower in Spain (53%) and Italy (49%), while she received a dismal 7% confidence rating from Greeks.
The most popular world leader by far was US President Barack Obama, with confidence ratings of 87%, 86% and 80% among Germans, French and British, respectively. This was significantly higher than Obama’s 61% confidence rating among Americans. Of Europeans polled, only Poles preferred Merkel to Obama (52% versus 50%). But while Obama remains remarkably popular in Europe personally, the policies he has pursued are less popular. There is notably a widespread perception among Europeans that Obama has done little to tackle climate change. For example, while 67% of British people expected he would take steps to address the issue back in 2009, only 21% today feel that he has taken such steps, a drop of 56 percentage points. And on counter-terrorism, there is strong disapproval of Obama’s use of drones (remotely-piloted airplanes) to kill al-Qaeda suspects in places like Pakistan and Yemen. For instance, 76% of Spanish disapprove of drone strikes and 90% of Greeks. By contrast, 62% of Americans support drone strikes. But despite their disappointment with him in certain policy areas, when asked if Obama should be re-elected, Europeans overwhelmingly said ‘yes’, with 92% of French and 89% of Germans wishing to see him stay in the White House.
The survey results are available at
(1) Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom