Country Profile: Spain

Transatlantic Relationship and Global Views

  • While international favorability of the United States remained relatively stable with 70% of respondents in the EU describing their opinion of the United States as very or somewhat favorable, while 26% described their opinion as somewhat or very unfavorable. Negative opinion of the U.S. increased significantly in Spain (from 72% to 62%).
  • In Europe, 69% of respondents approved of President Barack Obama’s international policies, while 21% disapproved. Spain was among the most likely to be opposed within Europe, with 31% expressing disapproval.
  • At the same time, support for EU leadership in world affairs remained strong with 71% of Europeans describing strong EU leadership as very or somewhat desirable. In Spain, support for EU leadership went down from 67% to 56% with the Spanish most likely to describe EU leadership as undesirable at 42% disapproval.
  • Although respondents generally viewed the EU favorably with 66% of respondents in Europe viewing the EU very or somewhat favorably, Spain had the lowest favorability ratings with 59% approval, down from 64% last year.
  • Twenty-six percent of European respondents said that the EU should have more authority over member states’ economic and budgetary policy, while 68% said that each member state should retain this authority for itself. Twenty-one percent of Spanish respondents wanted EU authority over national economic policy.
  • Meanwhile, many in Europe had mixed feelings with regard to their own governments’ handling of international policies; 50% approved, while 45% disapproved. Spanish respondents were the least likely to approve at 27% and were also the most likely to express disapproval: 70% of Spaniards, up 11 percentage points from last year, said that they disapproved somewhat or very much of their governments’ handling of international policies.
  • When asked about their feelings on Russian leadership, 65% of Europeans described it as undesirable while only 27% of respondents found it desirable. Spain was most likely to describe it as undesirable with 81% opposed.
  • When asked about the desirability of Chinese leadership in world affairs, 65% of Europeans found Chinese leadership desirable while only 26% found it desirable. Spain found it even less desirable with 83% against.
  • Sixty-five percent of Spanish respondents described China as more of an economic threat than an economic opportunity, yet 71% said rising powers like India, Brazil, and Indonesia pose more of an opportunity for new markets and investment more than a threat to jobs and prosperity.

Economic Crisis, Europe, and Trade

  • When asked if they had been personally affected by the economic crisis, Europeans (65%) and Americans (75%) overwhelmingly reported that they had, including 82% affected in Spain — up from 80% last year.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans, 82% of Europeans, and 69% of Turks said that most of the benefits of their economic system go to a few, while 25% of Americans, 15% of Europeans, and 23% of Turks said that their economic system works fairly for everybody. Within Europe, a number of countries approached unanimity. In Spain for example, 91% — up from 82% in 2012 — said that their economic system rewards the few.
  • When asked their opinion of the EU’s handling of the economic crisis, 43% of European respondents approved, while 49% disapproved. In Spain, 75% disapproved of EU leadership.
  • Europeans were more confident in the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with 47% saying that they approved of her handling of the economic crisis while 42% disapproved. However, these numbers varied drastically between countries, including Spain’s strong disapproval rate of 82% against.
  • Sixty percent of European respondents said that use of the euro has been bad, compared to 33% who said it has been good. In Spain, those that thought the Euro was bad for their economy, 51% want to keep the euro while 47% would like to return to the peseta.

Transatlantic Security

  • Respondents were asked whether U.S. and EU security and diplomatic partnerships should become closer, remain about the same, or whether the respondents’ side should take a more independent approach. Although opinion is closely divided, pluralities of both Europeans (42%) and Americans (33%) stated that their own side should take a more independent approach. Spain ranked among the highest percentages for a more independent approach with 52% and among those who wanted their side to move closer to its transatlantic partners with 34%.
  • Asked whether they approved of unmanned aircraft (drones) being used more extensively to find and kill suspected enemies in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, 53% of Europeans disapproved including 65% in Spain.
  • Thirty-eight percent of Europeans wanted to decrease spending, as opposed to only 26% of Americans. In Europe, approval for spending reductions was highest in Spain (56%), Italy (53%), and Slovakia (48%).
  • Concerning recent developments in the MENA region, respondents were asked to choose between “stability is more important even if it means accepting non-democratic governments” and “democracy is more important even if it leads to a period of instability.” A majority in Europe (58%) and a plurality in the U.S. (47%) preferred democracy over stability. Approval for this option was among the highest in Spain with 71% approval.
  • In Europe, nearly three-fourths of respondents (72%, up 13 percentage points) preferred to stay out and refrain from intervening in Syria. Spain was particularly adamant that their countries not get involved with 76% against intervention with one of the largest increases from last year — opposition up 18 percentage points from 2012.
  • The U.S. and Europe disagree on the use of force and when asked in 2013 if they agreed that war was sometimes necessary to obtain justice, there was a 37-percentage point difference between Americans (68% of whom agreed, down six percentage points) and Europeans (31% of whom agreed). Disapproval has increased in some of the European countries, such as Spain (83%, up nine percentage points).

Mobility, Migration, and Integration

  • When asked if they were worried about legal immigration, 75% of Spanish respondents said no, however when asked about illegal immigration, Spanish respondents were more concerned with 74% saying that they were worried.
  • Majorities in both the United States (61%) and Europe (52%) were mostly optimistic in stating that they felt that first-generation immigrants were integrating well into their society including 63% in Spain. When respondents were asked about second-generation immigrants, answers were more positive. Sixty-eight percent of Americans thought they were integrating well, with 59% of Europeans concurring — including 73% of Spanish respondents.
  • Respondents on both sides of the Atlantic were unhappy with their government’s management of immigration policy. Sixty-eight percent of Americans stated that the U.S. government was doing a poor job; with 58% of Europeans felt the same way about their governments. In Europe, concern was among the highest in Spain (74%).
  • When asked whether “immigrants take jobs away from native born” citizens, 50% of respondents in the United States agreed but a majority in Europe (62%) disagreed. Disagreement was among the strongest in Spain with 65%.
  • Spain was among the highest levels of disagreement in Europe when asked whether “immigrants are a burden on social services” (55% disagreed) and whether “immigrants are a threat to our national culture” (80% disagreed).
  • Asked whether emigration was a problem for their country, two-thirds of U.S. respondents (69%) said it was not, whereas 57% of Europeans said it was. The highest agreement levels in Europe were found in Portugal (88%), Italy (82%), Poland (82%), Spain (80%), and Romania (72%) — all of which are currently experiencing high emigration.