Close to three-quarters of Europeans — 74 percent — think the Continent should cut its military dependence on the U.S. and invest in its own defensive capabilities, a new report released Wednesday by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) shows.
The report, based on a poll with 16,168 respondents from 11 countries, also shows that majorities in every surveyed country want Europe to remain neutral in any conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan — in line with recent statements from French President Emmanuel Macron on the topic.
In an interview with POLITICO in April, the French leader said “the great risk” Europe faces is that it “gets caught up in crises that are not ours” — including Taiwan — preventing Europe from “building its strategic autonomy,” adding that the Continent should resist becoming “America’s followers.”
“The chief takeaway from our survey is that Europeans want to see the EU become more self-reliant in foreign policy and build up its own defensive capabilities,” Jana Puglierin, one of the report’s authors, said in a press release.
Forty-three percent of Europeans view China as a “necessary partner” — meaning they tend to agree with Macron’s stance on China — while 35 percent see Beijing as a “rival” or an “adversary” to their country, the report says.
However, the report shows that if Beijing decided to deliver ammunition and weapons to Russia, more Europeans than not (41 percent vs. 33 percent) would be ready to sanction China, even if that meant seriously damaging their own economies.
Respondents were also opposed to the prospect of Chinese ownership of key European infrastructure, such as bridges or ports (65 percent), tech companies (52 percent) and owning a newspaper in their country (58 percent).
A top ally to Moscow, China has sought to present itself as a neutral middleman amid the war in Ukraine — but Western leaders have criticized Beijing’s attempts, saying China had already picked sides in the conflict.
China has also denied it was supplying weapons to Moscow. But a recent POLITICO investigation showed that Chinese companies, including one with government ties, had sent assault rifles, drone parts and body armor to Russian entities.