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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Europe's faith in US 'crumbles'
Protesters in central London show their opposition to the war with Iraq
Anti-war feelings ran high in many European countries

European faith in the global leadership of the United States has plummeted since the Iraq war, a new transatlantic survey suggests.

But the findings also suggest that record numbers of Americans back US involvement overseas.

The poll of 8,000 people in the United States and seven European countries found that while they shared similar views about global threats, they differed markedly in how to respond to them.

"The transatlantic split over the war in Iraq has undermined Americans' standing in Europe," the Transatlantic Trends 2003 survey said.

In the European countries, majorities expressed disapproval of US foreign policy, with President George W Bush's personal standing in Germany crumbling from 36% to 16% since a similar survey last year.

The research was carried out in June 2003 by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo in Turin, Italy.

They conducted interviews in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Poland.

There is agreement on both sides of the Atlantic that terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are the main threats to international security.

The Germany that never sought to choose between Europe and the United States has now expressed an unambiguous preference for Europe
Transatlantic Trends Survey
But Americans are more likely than Europeans to support the use of force to disarm countries such as North Korea and Iran.

While 84% of Americans interviewed believe that war may be used to achieve justice, only 48% of Europeans agree.

Overall, less than half of the Europeans surveyed (45%) wanted to see a strong US presence in the world - down from 64% in the 2002 poll.

Only Poland of the European countries approved of the way Mr Bush is handling foreign policy, with 58% expressing support.

Former friend

Germany showed the most dramatic change in public opinion toward the United States since last year.

President Bush during a visit to Berlin in 2002
Bush's popularity has plunged in former staunch ally Germany
"The Germany that never sought to choose between Europe and the United States has now expressed an unambiguous preference for Europe," the survey said.

Now 81% of Germans consider the European Union more important than the United States to their vital interests, compared with 55% in 2002.

One of the most striking results was that public support among Americans for the US playing an active role in world affairs is at 77% - its highest since 1947 at the start of the Cold War.

Support for isolationism was at a record low of 15% with most Americans (80%) saying strong EU leadership was desirable.

"Overall, the events of the last year seem to have soured European opinion of the US and at the same time improved US feelings about the EU," said Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund.

"What I believe this apparent inconsistency is saying that neither Europeans nor Americans want to go it alone or compete with each other on foreign policy

"They both want to see a strong European Union and a US superpower that works through multilateral institutions."

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