Western Europe's view of the United States took a drastic tumble after the Uvalde mass shooting on 24 May — which resulted in the brutal death of 19 school children and 2 educators — then sank further after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which sends the right to get an abortion back to state control.
Morning Consult, a global digital intelligence company, released today their findings from a cultural image survey. The organisation surveyed adults from the five largest economies in Europe (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) about their overall views of America.
All of these countries are among the top 20 US export markets and in the top 20 sources of inbound tourists.
The results show an abysmal outlook on America.
"A country’s image abroad can have an impact on everything from its foreign policy efficacy to its economic clout," the Morning Consult writes in the release.
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The organisation notes that, while it is hard to draw a direct link between certain events and European views on the US, the particular timing shown on the graph leaves little room for ambiguity.
The honeymoon period turned trouble in paradise
The US saw a brief period of favourability in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. America's strong support of Ukrainian self-determination alongside NATO and the European Union caused average net favourability to rise by 9%.
The high rating of 25% stayed put through late May, until the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas "completely erased the goodwill that materialized among Europeans after the Ukraine invasion, in line with their long-standing criticism of America’s gun control policies."
The European Union has tight controls on firearms, making it difficult for EU citizens to obtain certain weapons, like the AR-15-style rifle used in the Uvalde shooting. The licensing and registration of guns are also more intense in Europe.
In the US, regulation of firearms is left up to the individual state's jurisdiction and is hamstrung by the second amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified over 23o years ago.
The US Supreme Court's controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade sent the ratings in the survey downwards once again, putting America's reputation amongst Western Europeans at its lowest in nine months.
The decision means women in the US have fewer options in terms of abortion services in certain states, as it is up to each individual state to decide how or even if a woman can have a legal abortion.
Abortion is legal in nearly all European countries, including the five countries in the survey. The right to abortion in each country is usually codified into law, making it difficult for lawmakers to overturn the ruling as in the US.