Pandemic sparks desire for European cooperation: poll

Brussels – The coronavirus pandemic has left most Europeans wanting more cooperation between EU states and many believing the bloc failed during the crisis, according to a new survey.

The survey, published on Monday, also found that most Europeans no longer saw the United States as a reliable partner, in a major shift from attitudes that date back to World War II.

The responses were part of a poll of 11,000 people carried out by the European Council on Foreign Relations in late April and early May, in conjunction with European newspapers including Le Monde, La Vanguardia and The Guardian.

“Before the crisis, the continent was increasingly split between pro-European cosmopolitans and Eurosceptic nationalists,” wrote study authors Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard.

The survey suggested “the virus has scrambled the distinction between the two”, they said.

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An overwhelming 63 percent of respondents said more EU cooperation was needed, though Nordic countries were happier than other nations with the way their national governments had responded.

Just under half of the respondents said the role of the EU has been irrelevant in the crisis, reaching 58 percent in France.

Except in Sweden and Denmark, Europeans felt no better about scientists or experts who took a front seat in the crisis, with 65 percent of respondents expressing a low opinion of them.

Even in Germany, where the handling of the pandemic has been viewed largely as a success, 56 percent were wary of experts, the survey showed.

But the crisis might have its biggest impact on how Europeans view their place in the world.

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Sixty percent of Europeans said their opinion of the US had worsened, while 48 percent said they thought more negatively of China.

“Europeans have lost faith in the United States , in its power and competence to lead the world,” Jeremy Shapiro , chief investigator at ECFR, told La Vanguardia.

The survey authors described “a new form of pro-European” who accepts that sovereignty will come “through joint foreign policy, control of external borders, and re-localised production”.