Transatlantic survey: Europeans and Americans fearful of “Trump factor”

What are the expectations and concerns of Americans and Europeans regarding President Trump?

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Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. Many observers expect relations between the United States and Europe to come under pressure, given Trump’s intent to secure a better deal from US allies. But according to a study by the ECFR in cooperation with Dalia Research, a vast majority of Americans (73%) see Europe as a valuable ally, despite Trump’s rhetoric. Europeans, who have traditionally depended to a greater extent than Americans on the transatlantic alliance, now take a less favourable view of their counterpart, with 67% seeing the US as valuable. Despite differences, this suggests that the transatlantic partnership is seen as important by a majority of people.



To find out about the strength of the transatlantic alliance, this representative study by ECFR, Stiftung Mercator and Dalia Research provides further insights into the expectations and concerns of Americans and Europeans regarding President Donald J. Trump and his administration. In November and December 2016 Dalia Research interviewed a total of 1,052 US-citizens and 11,283 Europeans across all 28 EU Member States.

Europeans and Americans differ in their perception of soon-to-be ex-president Barack Obama’s impact on their relationship, and the potential impact of a Trump presidency. Obama has significantly improved European’s perceptions of relations between them and the United States: 56% believe things have gotten better, compared to 40% of Americans. A majority in Europe fears negative ramifications for their relationship with the US during the upcoming Trump presidency. More than half of Europeans (55%) expect relations to get worse, whereas only 40% of the American public think so.



Europeans and Americans do agree, however, on the foreign policy issues where they expect Trump to do the wrong thing. Asked about 14 policy issues, both transatlantic sides converge around four: Social equality (EU: 39% US: 33%), climate change (EU: 33% US: 29%), global poverty (EU: 33% US: 30%) and the protection of human rights (EU: 32% US: 27%).


Europeans and Americans also largely agree on the areas where Trump might do the right thing. They expect these areas to be addressing terrorism (43% of Americans, 33% of Europeans), the fight against ISIS (41% of Americans, 33% of Europeans) and the global economy (33% of Americans, 20% of Europeans).



Americans and Europeans expect the most likely negative impact of Trump in diplomatic relations to be with China, and the most likely positive impact to be relations with Russia: 35% of Americans and 31% of Europeans think Trump will do the wrong thing in regards to China. 39% of Americans and 35% of Europeans think Trump will do the right thing in regards to Russia.



This transatlantic survey reveals a surprising consensus on the assessment of what to expect from the Trump presidency. The transatlantic agenda will remain full with a number of issues to solve to mitigate expected tensions in the US-EU relations. 

The survey is part of the Rethink: Europe project, an initiative of ECFR, supported by Stiftung Mercator, offering spaces to think through and discuss Europe’s strategic challenges. The questions were part of Dalia's “EuroPulse” Omnibus survey, which takes place four times per year..

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.


ECFR Alumni · Communications Officer

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