The EU’s international role: what do Europeans want?

When it comes to international relations, its role in conflicts, and climate change and migration, a survey of over 40,000 Europeans has found that many believe the EU needs to become more independent and exert more power on the world stage.

The survey, which was released last week, was carried out by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) thinktank. It included citizens of 14 EU countries: Austria, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

One of the most important findings of the surveys was that the majority of participants wanted the EU to become “a responsible actor in a dangerous world”. They want the EU to avoid being dragged into conflicts between major world powers, like fallouts between the US and Russia or China.

The authors noted: “For them, the bloc should chart its own course between other actors in a highly competitive, multipolar environment, avoiding fights that are not of its making but standing up to other continent-sized powers and tackling crises that affect its interest.”

Most of the respondents said they trusted the EU to protect their interests against global powers than their national governments, and that they want the union to become “a strong, independent, non-confrontational actor that is powerful enough to avoid taking sides or being at the mercy of outside powers.”

However, other than those in France and Romania, the majority of voters said that their national governments should represent their country’s interests in trade negotiations, rather than the EU, especially when it comes to protecting against competitive Chinese trade.

In addition, most of the respondents said that the EU should remain neutral on conflicts between other superpowers, like the US, Russia, and China. And when asked about Iran, most of the participants said they support the EU’s attempts to keep the nuclear deal.

On the issues of climate change and migration, many of the participants expressed anxieties about the EU’s ability to tackle these problems effectively. European voters supported greater efforts to police borders and protect the environment.

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