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Europeans' trust in US falls during coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the European Council in Brussels, Friday, June 19, 2020.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the European Council in Brussels, Friday, June 19, 2020.   -   Copyright  Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has left Europeans uncertain who they can rely on with just two per cent now seeing the US as a "useful" ally on matters of global significance, a major new survey has found.

Overall, around two-thirds of people polled by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Denmark (71 per cent), Portugal (70 per cent), France (68 per cent), Germany (65 per cent) and Spain (64 per cent), said their perception of the US had become increasingly negative.

The deterioration in trust towards Washington is particularly pronounced in France and Germany, the two states at the centre of EU policymaking, the ECFR flagged in its latest report.

Forty-six per cent of French respondents and 42 per cent of Germans said their views of the US had worsened "a lot" as a result of the pandemic — the highest results among the nine member states surveyed which also included Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, and Sweden.

The health crisis has also increased the Europeans' negativity towards China. In every country polled, bar Bulgaria, higher proportions reported increasing negativity rather than positivity.

"In eight of nine surveyed countries, the share of respondents who have adopted a more negative view of China in the past year has increased by a factor of two and a factor of 10," the report states.

This has led respondents to believe that the health crisis should push the bloc into taking a more unified response to global threats.

"Europeans have accepted the fact that Trump's America is not necessarily a friend to Europe in a time of need," the report states

"Thus, if handled carefully, Europeans' current trauma could develop in support for a greater international role for the EU.

"It would be beneficial for European voters if the EU emerged from the crisis as a stronger global actor — one that provided not only a useful framework for practical cooperation between states, but also shaped the international order in line with European values and interests," it adds.