Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Studies, UTDT, Argentina. Professor, IESP-UERJ, Brazil
Latin America sees the European Union as the global leader and best cooperation partner for the defence of the environment and human rights, the promotion of world peace, the fight against poverty and the provision of humanitarian aid. However, it is considered in a secondary position when it comes to military power, economic power (China and the United States lead these fields) and technological development, which China also leads.
A recent survey called European Union – Latin America: views, agendas and expectations aims to identify the Latin American perspective on the global/regional reality in the current global context. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Nueva Sociedad magazine supported the project, with the participation of Latinobarómetro. It was carried out by the Dialogue and Peace group (integrated by Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, Carlos Luján, Guadalupe González, Carlos A. Romero and Monica Hirst).
The study, based on a representative sample of 12,000 respondents from the population of ten Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela) included a balanced variety of social strata, gender, educational level and age. The survey was conducted from 10 September to 4October 2021.
The results of the research were manifold. Firstly, it showed there is a regional consensus on the two main global concerns: extreme poverty (73%) and climate change (71%). In fact, concern for the environment is widespread across countries and social strata (40% said they were quite concerned and 47% said they were very concerned about environmental problems).
When asked about the main threats to the region, respondents overwhelmingly pointed to organized crime and violence (78% and 72% respectively) followed ‒to a lesser extent‒ by terrorism (35%) and coups d’État (34%).
Security in Latin America is perceived as a public order issue, whereas international conflicts (wars, nuclear weapons and cyber attacks) are less concerning in every country (except Colombia, where 42% identified wars in the region as a worrying threat, while the regional average is of 22%).
As to how the region sees Europe, the survey showed there it is an overall positive view, especially in the cultural, symbolic and socio-economic aspects. The European Union (EU) is also perceived as an actor that will, in the future, have a strong global influence. The results also show clear differences in leadership within the European block: 74% of respondents identified Germany as a leading country in the EU, followed by France (63%) and Spain (50%).
Half of the respondents see Europe as the preferred region to connect with. This positive image of Europe also comes from its policy leadership in international issues. This perception identifies Europe as the global leader and the best cooperation partner for the defence of the environment and human rights, the promotion of world peace, the fight against poverty and the provision of humanitarian aid.
However, it is considered in a secondary position when it comes to military power, economic power, (China and the United States lead these fields) and technological development (76% clearly identified China as the global leader). Lastly, in terms of democracy, the countries with most points at the regional level were the United States and France (7,7). When asked about development models, the western countries were considered the most advanced: 44% named the United States and 41% named Germany, followed by Japan (31%) and China (29%).
Bearing in mind that this survey was carried out during the second quarter of 2021, it will be interesting and revealing to compare its results to those of a new sample following the context generated by the war in Ukraine. It is very likely that issues such as EU leadership and the image of the rest of the European region will show very significant differences.
Guadalupe González, Mónica Hirst, Carlos Luján, Carlos A. Romero, Juan Tokatlian (2022); “How Latin America sees Europe”; Nueva Sociedad; available at: https://nuso.org/articulo/como-AL-ve-a-europa/
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