Every year since 2002, the German Marshall Fund of the United States has been publishing , an invaluable survey of opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. This year's edition paints a portrait of a transatlantic relationship on the road to improvement but still marked by deep divisions as the Bush era comes to a close. Whereas in 2002, 64 percent of Europeans surveyed saw U.S. global leadership as "desirable" and only 31 percent viewed it as "undesirable," today those figures are 36 percent "desirable" and 59 percent "undesirable" -- levels that have changed little since 2004. Similarly, only 31 percent of Europeans surveyed said they believed that the European Union should form a closer partnership with the United States, a figure only a few points higher than the one found in 2006. What is a more hopeful finding is that on most of the major international issues of the day -- terrorism, the global economy, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan, and Russia -- Americans and Europeans have largely similar priorities and views. A notable exception is climate change, which 41 percent of respondents from key European countries said they believed should be a priority for the next U.S. president (compared with just 18 percent of Americans surveyed). Europeans also seem hopeful about the future of relations with the United States, with 47 percent surveyed saying they would improve if Barack Obama was elected, 29 percent saying they would stay the same, and only 5 percent saying they would worsen. The bar has been set high for the Obama administration.
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