Europeans lost trust in US during COVID-19, new poll says

Citizens across Europe have lost faith in the US during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll, as the Trump administration grapples with a spike in the number of new cases. 

According to a poll released by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) last week, citizens of Denmark, Portugal, Poland, France, Germany, and Spain said that their view of the US had worsened during the pandemic. The poll, commissioned by the ECFR and conducted by YouGov, surveyed 11,000 citizens across nine European countries and discussed changing attitudes brought on by the coronavirus. The polling took place for several days in April and in early May, depending on the country.

According to the report, the COVID-19 crisis has made Europeans realize that despite shared values with other nations in the West, they are ultimately “alone in the world.” 

“Only a vanishingly small number of respondents to this year’s survey feel that the US has been the key ally for their country in the crisis,” the report said. “In Denmark, Portugal, France, Germany, and Spain, more than two-thirds of respondents said that their view of the US has worsened during the crisis.”

“Europeans’ trust in Trump’s America is gone,” the report said. “Many of them have been appalled by the country’s chaotic response to COVID-19; the lack of solidarity it showed with Europeans in the March 12 closure of its border to members of the Schengen area; and its lack of leadership in tackling the coronavirus crisis at the global level ⁠— or even engagement with the issue (beyond a war of words with the World Health Organisation).”

These findings contrast with a pan-European poll conducted by the ECFR last year that showed Europeans “preferred the idea of an EU that was strong enough not to be forced to choose sides in a conflict but, ultimately, would usually side with the United States over any other ally.”

The shift in perception of US reliability was pronounced in France and Germany, where 46% of French respondents and 42% of German respondents said their view of the US worsened “a lot” due to the coronavirus.

Respondents also didn’t share a positive view of the EU’s coronavirus response. None of the countries surveyed reported a majority positive change in performance by EU institutions during the pandemic. China also left an “overwhelmingly negative” impression on Europeans during the pandemic, the report said.

The survey’s release comes as the US is dealing with a surge in its number of coronavirus cases. The US has reported over 2.6 million coronavirus infections and more than 127,000 deaths since the pandemic began — the highest of any country in the world. 

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that the true coronavirus count is likely 10 times higher than the official count

“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters on Thursday.

The alarming spike in cases has prompted the EU this week to consider banning Americans from traveling to its member states. The bloc has recommended relaxing restrictions for 14 countries, including Australia, Canada, and Japan.

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