Europeans want a stronger EU in global affairs but not as top priority, poll shows

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European citizens want the European Union to have a stronger role in international affairs but the goal is not considered a top priority.

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This is one of the main conclusions from an exclusive Euronews poll conducted by Ipsos among almost 26,000 respondents across 18 member states ahead of the elections to the European Parliament, which will be held between 6 and 9 June.

The first-of-its-kind survey shows that 40% of Europeans see the strengthening of the bloc’s global weight as a “priority” while 42% believe this should be “important but not a priority.” Only 18% of respondents see the objective as “secondary.”

The results reflect a growing awareness of diplomacy after years of back-to-back crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, which have seen the EU take a more prominent presence in multilateral fora and coordinate its response with its Western allies.

Challenges like climate change, irregular migration, fake news and the rapid ascent of artificial intelligence, all of which exceed national borders, have further reinforced the narrative that Europe cannot manage the 21st century on its own nor afford to stand on the sidelines.

Upon becoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen promised her executive would be “geopolitical” and have a greater say on the global stage.

“We will invest in alliances and coalitions to advance our values. We will promote and protect Europe’s interests through open and fair trade. We will strengthen our partners through cooperation because strong partners make Europe strong too,” von der Leyen said in 2019 while making her pitch to the European Parliament.

“My Commission will not be afraid to speak the language of confidence. But it will be our way, the European way. This is the geopolitical Commission that I have in mind, and that Europe urgently needs.”

Almost five years later, Europeans appear to share her view, although with less intensity.

The most ardent proponents for a stronger Global Europe are found in Portugal (where 56% say “priority”), Bulgaria (50%) and Spain (49%). The highest shares of those who believe this should be “secondary” come from Poland (28%), Romania (25%) and France (21%), a country with a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

In Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has sought to break ranks with Brussels when it comes to foreign policy, a majority of 55% choose the option of “important but not a priority,” the highest percentage for this answer.

When looking at voting intention ahead of the June elections, the declared supporters of the four pro-European parties are the likeliest to consider boosting the EU’s international role as a “priority”: the European People’s Party (50%), the Socialists & Democrats (50%), the liberals of Renew Europe (51%) and the Greens (47%). 

By contrast, 35% of those who back the hard-right European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) and 25% of those who endorse the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) believe this ambition should be a “priority.” 

Moreover, 38% and 45% of ECR and ID supporters, respectively, say this should be “important but not a priority.” The remainder (27% and 30%, respectively) see it as “secondary.”

Overall, among the 10 courses of action surveyed by Ipsos, strengthening the bloc’s global clout ranks eighth, above aid to Ukraine and the protection of minorities.



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