The war in Ukraine and climate change are the main concerns of Europeans and North Americans, according to a study | International
The invasion of Ukraine, ordered on February 24 by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has altered the perception of the challenges for world security for Europeans and North Americans. While the covid-19 pandemic and terrorism drop down the list of concerns, wars between countries, Russia, and climate change have become the biggest challenges the world will face in the coming years, according to the conclusions of the study Transatlantic Trends 2022 (Transatlantic Trends 2022), which is presented this Thursday.
The analysis, prepared by the German Marshall Foundation of the USA and the Bertelsmann Foundation, with the collaboration as a main partner of the BBVA Foundation, is based on the responses of 21,000 elderly citizens surveyed last June in 14 countries —United States , Canada, Turkey and the United Kingdom, plus 10 European Union countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Sweden—. In global terms, the war between countries was mentioned as the first concern by 18% of those surveyed; Russia, by 17%, and climate change, by 18%, which places the combination of the armed conflict between countries and the Russian threat as the greatest global challenge, with 35%.
However, there are differences between some countries and others. Except for Turkey, the states that view the Russian invasion with the greatest fear are those bordering or closest to each other territorially: Lithuania (69%), Poland (60%), Romania (45%) and Germany (43%). On the opposite side, the least concerned countries are Turkey (18%), Canada (21%), the United States (23%) and Italy (24%).
In the United States, for example, concern about the war in Ukraine is at a level similar to concern about terrorism, cybersecurity, immigration, the pandemic, or the challenge from China. In Spain, climate change is mentioned as the first concern in 22% of cases —although the combination between war and Russia adds up to 30%. The same occurs in Canada (24%) and in the countries of southern Europe (Italy, 34%; Portugal, 29% and France, 28%), where global warming is considered the greatest planetary challenge.
Another effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been to reinforce the importance that citizens give to the role of NATO and the European Union for the security of countries, although there are no broad agreements on which body should address the Russian challenge . In the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the relative majority opts for the Atlantic Alliance, while in the European Union opinions are divided, although the balance is tilted in favor of the community institutions, especially in the case of Spain and Portugal.
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However, the polls do show a consensus regarding the essential measures to confront the Russian invasion: the need to prosecute Russia for war crimes, to increase economic sanctions against Moscow and to increase economic aid to Ukraine are seen by most of the citizens questioned in the study as the fundamental tools to stop the Kremlin's offensive.
China: ally, competitor or rival?
Almost a third of those surveyed do not know or do not answer the question of how they perceive China among the options of “ally”, “competitor” or “rival” country. In the European case, only 26% consider it an ally state, while 28% see it as a competitor and 16% as a rival. In the United States, the perception of the Chinese threat is greater: 34% consider the Asian giant as a competitor and 32% as a rival.
In the hypothetical case that China invades Taiwan, which Beijing considers its own, the majority believes "that their country should adopt some measure", although there is a preference for diplomatic solutions and sanctions, over sending weapons or troops to Taipei , which receives minority support in all countries, according to the study. The United States, with 15%, is the country most in favor of some kind of military response. However, the survey was carried out before tension rose in the area after the visit to the island of Nancy Pelosi, president of the United States House of Representatives, last August.
As for Chinese leadership, all countries agree that the world's second largest economy is still behind the United States, which is still perceived as the most influential country in a five-year horizon.
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