Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung conducts a poll on European security in seven countries

In the context of dramatic challenges for the European security order, the FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe (FES ROCPE) has completed a study on European security.

USA and Russia are threats to European security

This is one of the results of a representative public opinion poll "Security Radar 2019 – Wake-Up Call for Europe" of the Vienna-based FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe, to be presented at the Munich Security Conference. The poll was conducted in cooperation with the opinion research institute Ipsos in Germany, France, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. The respondents perceive wars and conflicts as the biggest threat to European security, with 69% on average fearing that their own country could be affected and 46% expecting a new war in Europe against the background of Russia-West tensions.

Half of the German respondents think that the USA is a threat to security in Europe, well ahead of any threat posed by Russia (33%). Conversely, in Poland and Ukraine Russia is clearly perceived as a threat (77% and 67% respectively), less so in France (40%) and Serbia (23%).

Many European states dissatisfied with their status

Discontent with one’s international standing is a big challenge to security in Europe. In particular Serbian, Ukrainian and Polish respondents (85%, 74% and 67% respectively) think their countries do not have the status they deserve, while the Germans and the French are satisfied with their countries’ respective status (71%, 59%). This implies endorsement of increased military spending – particularly in Serbia, Poland and Ukraine (77%, 68%, 61%). Only 43% of the Germans polled are in favour of such policy.

Among factors influencing the relations with Russia respondents cite the Ukraine crisis (72%) and the USA (68%). A lack of cooperation with Russia is another factor - 69% of all respondents name it. More than half of all respondents desire greater cooperation with Russia – as do even 27% of the Ukrainians.

Ukrainians want to solve the conflict themselves

Remarkably, 63% of Ukrainians believe that the solution to the crisis in and around Ukraine should be left to Ukraine. NATO membership is desired by 56% of Ukrainians (in Germany: 23%), while 73% wish to join the EU (in Germany: 26%).

Inclusive and non-military organisations should play a more important role in the future

Respondents want the EU to play a greater role in the future, citing it after the United Nation (UN) and just before the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). On average 60% opt for a value-based foreign policy; only in Russia and Serbia are the numbers considerably lower. It is exactly the other way around regarding an interest-based foreign policy: Germany and France poll below the average of 77%. 70% of Germans want their country to pursue an active foreign policy. Asked about assuming more international responsibility and supporting other states, even with no direct benefit for their own country, Germans poll highest, followed by France and Poland. Russian respondents show no interest in such a foreign policy.

No new East-West conflict

Unlike in the Cold War, with two major blocks ideologically opposed to one another, the polled countries can be classified into three groups. Germany and France both want to assume more responsibility and are capable to lead a joint effort for an inclusive European security.

By contrast, Russia is considered a challenge for European security. The population is discontent with the status of the country and wishes for a purely interest-based foreign policy. At the same time, it feels itself as part of the European cultural sphere.

The four countries of Latvia, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine share a dissatisfaction with their respective status. However, the wishes and interest of the population do not neatly correspond with either of the other two country groups. These four countries are moving between East and West. For a joint European foreign policy, this entails a challenge, but first and foremost a transformative potential. 

Download of the survey

Contact at FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe
Dr. Reinhard Krumm, Head
 +43 (0)664 284 45 14



Peter Donaiski

Hiroshimastr. 17
10785 Berlin

030 269 35-7038
030 269 35-9244

Peter Donaiski


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