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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Europe influence seen as positive
Replica of the Statue of Liberty at the base of Eiffel Tower, Paris
French influence seems more welcome abroad than that of the US
Europe - and France in particular - are seen as benevolent forces in a world largely scornful of US influence, a poll taken in 23 countries suggests.

The survey found that, on average, 58% of people want Europe to play a bigger role than the US in world affairs.

France emerged as the single country with the best reputation abroad.

The survey was carried out by polling group GlobeScan and the University of Maryland with some questions provided by the BBC World Service.

Of the 23,518 people polled, 47% said the US had a negative effect on the world, with US neighbours and allied countries being among its biggest critics.

Overall, 15 of the 23 countries surveyed said the US had a negative influence in the world.

Our survey shows that Europe's star has risen as America's has declined under the Bush administration
Doug Miller

Disapproval for the US was highest in Argentina, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Canada and Mexico.

Countries where people regarded the US most favourably were the Philippines, South Africa, India, Poland and South Korea.

After the US, Russia was the country with the least positive reputation abroad among those questioned.

China was largely seen to be a good influence in the world with, on average, 48% of people regarding it favourably. The survey showed support for China's growing economic role - but little enthusiasm for its military potential.

The poll was conducted between 15 November 2004 and 5 January 2005 and the sample was limited to major urban areas in eight of the countries.

The poll's margin of error ranges from +/-2.5 to 4%.

France 'best'

In 22 of the 23 countries polled, people felt Europe had a generally positive influence on the world.

France had the best reputation of the big nations, viewed favourably in 20 countries.

French influence was opposed by a majority of people in the US alone, while its biggest supporter was its historical enemy, Germany, where some 77% felt France was a force for good.

Although 55% of US citizens felt greater European influence would be a bad thing, 34% of Americans felt the opposite - a statistic which the report's authors claim reflects deep political divisions within the US.

India appeared to be the only nation more or less equally divided over whether greater European influence would be beneficial for the world.

Influence of trade

The results show trade to be an effective tool of influence, said Steven Kull, a director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland which conducted the poll.

"What is notable here is that Europe and China, which have engaged the world primarily through economic relations - or soft power - are widely seen as having a positive influence," he said.

However, "countries that have very large militaries and have recently used them in a prominent way - the US and Russia - are more often seen as having a negative influence", he said.

Doug Miller, of GlobeScan, said the poll was worrying for Americans.

"Our survey shows that Europe's star has risen as America's has declined under the Bush administration," he said.

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