World Politics

Europeans' trust in Trump's America 'is gone' after coronavirus pandemic, poll finds

Key Points
  • Europeans' perception of the U.S. has deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The poll of 11,000 respondents across nine European countries, commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), showed that in almost every country surveyed, there was an increasingly negative perception of the U.S.
Randal Thom, 60, of Minnesota, waves an oversized flag of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday, June 18, 2020.
The Washington Post

A poll of thousands of Europeans has found that the majority have an increasingly negative view of the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus crisis, with just 2% of Europeans surveyed expressing the view that the U.S. was a "helpful" ally in the fight against Covid-19.

The poll of 11,000 respondents across nine European countries, commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), showed that in almost every country surveyed, there was an increasingly negative perception of the U.S.

In Denmark, Portugal, France, Germany and Spain, around two-thirds of people surveyed said that their view of the U.S. had worsened during the health crisis, the ECFR think-tank, which provides research on European foreign and security policy, said Monday.

Coronavirus cases in the United States just surpassed 2.5 million infections

This view was particularly marked in France and Germany, where 46% and 42% respectively said their view of the U.S. had worsened "a lot" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Poland and Bulgaria were the only countries where the most people said there had been "no change" in their view of the U.S.

Trump's America 

"The proportion of respondents who felt that the U.S. had been a key ally through the crisis was vanishingly small, with the largest proportion in Italy, at just 6%," the report compiled from the findings, authored by the ECFR's foreign policy experts, Susi Dennison and Pawel Zerka, noted.

"In a frightening world, one looks around for friends. But Europeans are uncertain who they can rely on. As a pan-European poll ECFR carried out in 2019 showed, Europeans preferred the idea of an EU that was strong enough not to be forced to choose sides in a conflict but, ultimately, would usually side with the United States over any other ally. Now, Europeans' trust in Trump's America is gone."

The report authors said that many respondents said they were "appalled" by the U.S.' response to tackling the coronavirus crisis at a global level, although the White House has repeatedly denied that it has mishandled the pandemic.

The poll also found that Covid-19 had increased Europeans' negativity towards both Russia (which is perceived to have not taken active international role in resolving the crisis) and China, where the pandemic was first reported in December. This was particularly so in France and Denmark, where 62% of respondents reported a more negative view of China.

Interestingly, 25% of people polled in Italy saw China as the most useful ally in the crisis, a result which could be due to China sending ventilators, medical experts and personal protective equipment to Italy, where Europe's outbreak emerged in February.

'Alone in the world'

The authors of the report said the coronavirus crisis had appeared to galvanize public support for the European Union to take more coordinated action to tackle global threats, and that Europeans had realized "that they are alone in the world."

Few respondents to the survey had a positive view of the EU's coronavirus response, however, and when asked "who has been your country's greatest ally during the coronavirus crisis" a majority of respondents from seven countries answered "no one."

"The Covid-19 crisis has caught the European public up with the reality that European foreign policymakers have suspected to be the case for a while. Europeans are, ultimately, alone and vulnerable," report author Susi Dennison said.

"Europeans have digested the fact that the U.S. is no longer necessarily a friend for Europe in times of need. As Germany takes over the Presidency of the EU, next month, this important shift in public opinion towards the U.S. may push European governments to pursue a more independent line in the rebuilding of the international order after Covid-19."

The pan-European survey was carried out in the field by Datapraxis and YouGov in nine EU member states in the last week of April 2020, and into early May. In France and Germany, 2,000 people in each country were surveyed, and in Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, 1,000 people were polled in each country.