Ahead of #UNGeneral Assembly – key polling on what Europeans think about #Iran deal, Russian interference, #ChinaTradeWars and #ClimateChange

| September 20, 2019

As global leaders prepare to descend on New York for next week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and Climate Action Summit, Susi Dennison, from the award-winning think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), believes there is a mandate for a more activist EU on international issues.

Dennison, a Senior Fellow and specialist in European power, argues that there is a growing appetite among Europeans for a strategic pooling of “sovereignty” across shared ambitions – for example, tackling climate change; Russian aggression and interference in international elections; Iranian nuclear disarmament; and the aggressive trade practices of China and the US – and that the EU should be more assertive across these issues, at events such as the UN General Assembly.

Pointing to the findings of a major polling exercise – of 60,000 Europeans in 14 EU Member States – Ms Dennison believes there is an opportunity for European and EU leaders to take the lead on many of the subjects under discussion in New York.

Dennison, Senior Fellow at ECFR, said: “As Europe’s political leaders head to New York, this opinion data shows that the continent’s voters want the EU to stand up for Europeans on the world stage.

“While Europeans have been underwhelmed by the EU’s foreign policy’s performance in recent years, they are ahead of their politicians in understanding the need for a stronger Europe in a world where it could be pushed around by ever more aggressive and nationalistic superpowers.

“Europeans don’t need to be sold on the idea of European cooperation on climate change, security and trade – they need to be sold on Europe’s ability to deliver.”

The said polling exercise, which formed part of a report published by ECFR last week, found that:

  • On Iran, a majority of Europeans (57%) are supportive the EU’s efforts to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ‘nuclear deal’, agreed in 2015. Support for the deal is strongest in Austria (67%) and weakest in France (47%).
  • More than half of the survey respondents (57%) believe Europe’s economic interests, vis-à-vis China, are not sufficiently protected – with this position held by almost three quarters of voters in France (72%) and Italy (72%), and almost two-thirds in Spain (64%), Germany (62%) and Greece (62%).
  • Large proportions of voters in Europe believe that Russia is attempting to undermine and destabilize political structures across the continent, and that national governments have inadequate safeguards to protect against such interference. The view, that national structures are susceptible to Russian propaganda and interference, was strongly expressed in Poland (63%), the Netherlands (55%), Germany (54%), Sweden (52%), Romania (52%) and Denmark (51%).
  • At least 40% of voters in each of the polled countries believe the current EU sanctions policy against Russia is justifiably “balanced” or not tough enough. Support for a tougher policy was strongest in Poland (55%) and weakest in Slovakia (19%).
  • More than half voters in each country surveyed – aside from the Netherlands and France – think measures to tackle climate change should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth. Support for this was most popular in Romania (77%), Greece (74%), Italy (74%), and Hungary (73%).’

    The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy. ECFR is an independent charity and funded from a variety of sources. For more details, click here.

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