EU Power Image Up, U.S. Down

A poll says a growing number of people see Europe as a superpower, while they say the U.S. will be the "great loser of the future"

The perception that the EU is a global player is increasing worldwide, while the image of the US as the world's biggest power is fading, a new survey has shown.

Citizens in major states across the globe see the EU as the fifth superpower in the world after the US, China, Russia and Japan -- but by 2020, Europe is expected to move up by one place, according to a poll released on Wednesday (12 December) by the German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Respondents to the survey from within the EU are the most optimistic about the bloc's future as a global actor, with percentages ranging from 80 percent in Germany, to 70 percent (UK), and 38 percent (France).

Citizens from Russia (13 percent), Brazil (10 percent) and India (9 percent) rank Russia, the US and India top of the list, respectively.

The US will be "the great loser of the future", according to the poll.

While it is now perceived as the world's number one superpower by 81 percent of the respondents, 61 percent think the US will still be top world player in 13 years time.

Almost an equal number of respondents -- 57 percent -- think China will be the world's most important player in 2020, 37 percent say it will be Russia and 33 -- the EU and Japan.

The poll was conducted in Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, India, the US, France, Germany, and the UK.

In addition, Chinese and Russians think their countries should develop closer ties with the EU (98 and 91 percent, respectively), while 78 percent of Americans, 68 percent of Indians and 48 percent of Japanese share the same view.

Among the biggest challenges the world's top powers have to tackle, climate change, international terrorism and poverty top the list, followed by wars, the scarcity of natural resources, religious conflicts and weapons of mass destruction.

Consequently, reduction of poverty, protection of the environment and support for democracy and human rights should be the top goals of any superpower, according to the survey's respondents.

However, the trends of the poll indicate that international cooperation in order to tackle these challenges is not sufficiently developed, Josef Janning, head of International Relations at the Bertelsmann Stiftung commented.

"In almost every country, people plan to rely on their own strength in global competition and want their own countries to play larger roles in spreading peace and stability. If this perspective and expectation takes hold in global politics, we may see a resurgence of the sort of nationalistic brinkmanship between current and future global powers that we experienced so disastrously in 20th century Europe", he said.

But Mr Janning added that "the threat of climate change appears to be encouraging greater political cooperation at the international level".

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