Security Radar 2019: Wake-up call for Europe!

Country Spotlights

Country Spotlights

Read the Highlights of the Security Radar 2019 poll in our country spotlight booklet. More

Key Findings

Key Findings

Read about the Key Findings of the Security Radar 2019 poll in a short overview. More


"Europeans today are much less belligerent than in 1914 or 1939"

Dienes, Alexandra; Krumm, Reinhard; Weiß, Simon

"Europeans today are much less belligerent than in 1914 or 1939"

Wien, 2020

Download publication (1,2 MB PDF-File)

Security Radar 2019

Security Radar 2019

Wake-up call for Europe!
Wien, 2019

Download publication (3,2 MB PDF-File)


All maps used in this survey are intended purely to provide a general overviewThey do not attempt any cartographic accuracy nor imply any political statement.


In the context of dramatic challenges for the European Security Architecture, new emerging cold and hot conflicts, an annexation, and intensifying cyber-attacks, the Security Radar 2019: Wake-up call for Europe analysis aims to shed light on two main factors which have a substantial impact on political decision makers: public opinion in general, and expert perspectives in particular, regarding the security and foreign policy situation in Europe.

Aim of the analysis

The aim of the analysis is to provide in-depth information on a topic that is relevant for both politicians and society as a whole. In the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the seemingly solid and peaceful road towards European unity, new divisions have opened up within Europe, and even within the European Union. According to some experts, even though there are far fewer conventional and nuclear weapons on its territory, Europe appears to be in a worse situation today than it was during the Cold War. The experts suggest that the rules and common understanding that once guided the world through dangerous moments are becoming more and more irrelevant. A military conflict cannot be excluded with the certainty that we had a quarter of a century ago. The representative public opinion poll, held in seven European countries, was developed by the FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe and conducted by Ipsos Berlin. It systematically analyses and investigates the attitudes and values related to the current security and foreign policy situation in Europe, five years after the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Seven countries were chosen to participate

Seven countries were chosen to participate in this public opinion poll. They are France and Germany, two founding members of the organisation now known as the European Union; Latvia and Poland who joined the EU in 2004; Serbia, which has had full candidate status for EU membership since 2013; Ukraine, which signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014 and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU in 2016; and lastly, Russia.

The choice of the seven countries detailed above for participation in the poll was based on their importance for European security: France and Germany are, for the moment, the two remaining major countries of the EU, whose support is necessary for any possible initiatives; Poland is the most powerful Central Eastern European EU member state; Latvia is a member of the historically volatile Baltic region and a former Soviet republic; Serbia is a very important country in Southeast Europe, with ties to the EU but with cultural affinity to Russia; Ukraine is the largest country of the Eastern Partnership programme and is currently trying to defend itself against separatists backed by Russia in Donbass. Last, but not least, the poll includes Russia, because without Russia any talk of security in Europe is pointless.

Political consulting experts evaluated the current situation in group discussions

In addition to the poll, active political consulting experts from the above-mentioned countries were involved in group discussions, intended to determine the typical mindset of the local expert community: to reveal how experts evaluated the current situation and what actions they recommended accordingly. In each country a small group of approximately five experts participated in an active and open discussion. The criteria for including the experts were (a) proven expertise and knowledge, as acknowledged within the country-specific expert discourse and (b) established influence on the political discourse within the country. Each data set was analysed separately. Subsequently the results were triangulated. The guiding research aim of this analytical step was to identify how the expert mind-set and public opinion differ and to examine what conclusions can be drawn from this.

Methodology: Multi-Country CATI Survey

Countries: Germany, France, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia

Mode: Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)

Sampling: Random sampling, representative for the population of the country

Target group: Resident population aged 18+ that lives in a private household and is attainable via landline and / or mobile telephone connection

Interviews: n=1,000 interviews in each country, 7,000 in total

Weighting: The sample structure of the reported results is adjusted to the official statistics (weighting based on age, gender and region)

Fieldwork: August-October 2018

Research Design

The research is designed to shed light on two main factors that have substantial impact on political decision makers when faced with security or foreign affairs issues: public opinion and the perspective of political consulting experts. Accordingly, the design of the study consists of two main steps of data collection and analysis: a representative public opinion poll and expert group discussions.

A representative public opinion poll was conducted in seven European countries: Germany, France, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. The aim was to systematically investigate the attitudes to the current security and foreign policy situation in Europe. The pollster Ipsos Public Affairs in Berlin was assigned to carry out the necessary fieldwork. Expert-group-discussions in each of the seven countries provided access to (a) expert-knowledge and (2) the typical mind-set of the regional consulting expert community. This step aimed to replicate how regional expert communities define and evaluate the current security and foreign policy situation and investigated what useful lessons could be derived from their perspective.


A representative opinion survey was conducted with the help of a fully standardised instrument (CATI Dual-Frame). The target population surveyed consisted of citizens of the seven countries detailed above, aged 18 or over, with access to at least one landline telephone or at least one cell-phone. The survey explores public opinion concerning the current security and foreign policy situation in five dimensions:

  • Perception of the current threat situation
  • Trust and attitudes towards institutions
  • Attitudes towards foreign and security policy
  • Attitudes towards national identity
  • Prospects for the development of security policy in Europe.

Furthermore, descriptors consisting of sociodemographics, political views and information behaviour were collected. The survey uses Likert-scaled, binary and open-ended questions. The objective of Likert-scaling is to measure the extent of agreement or disagreement with a question or statement. In most cases, the extent is measured on a four-point scale ranging from ‘strongly agree’, ‘somewhat agree’, ‘somewhat disagree’ to ‘strongly disagree’. Some five-point and ten-point scales were also used. The respondents could also decline to agree or disagree with the question or statement. In this case, the answer was coded as ‘I don‘t know’. For statistical analysis, each point scale is converted into a number from one to four (and in a few cases one to five or ten). Statistical analysis was performed using Microsoft® Excel® and IBM® SPSS® Statistics Version 25. Before the main fieldwork began, a pre-test was conducted in Germany (n=52) and Serbia (n=54) to test the clarity of the questions, answer options, the questionnaire’s length, as well as willingness to participate. The pre-test took place between May 29th and 30th 2018. Contacts were recruited under realistic fieldwork conditions. The results of the pre-test were used to inform the final design of the questionnaire.

The sampling method consisted of a multi-level, layered random selection process based on a sample, together with a random sample of the interviewees (Random Last Two Digits Approach). By applying the Dual-frame method, two separate samples were formed in each of the survey countries. The data was weighted in a multi-stage process. First, the landline telephone household-sample was transformed into a person-sample. Second, the landline telephone household-sample and the cell-phone individual-sample were transformed into a person-sample. Finally, the unweighted sample-structure was adjusted to the official statistics. For the last step of the weighting process the sex, age and region variables were used to calculate the weighting factors. The iterative ‘Rim weight’ procedure supplied by Quantum Software ® was used.

Expert Group Discussion

With the help of a semi-structured interview instrument, expert group discussions were conducted in each of the above-mentioned countries. Trained moderators carried out the data collection. Target groups were active political consulting experts and analysts. All expert group discussions took place in October and November 2018. The central theme of the discussion was the current foreign and security situation in Europe. The participants were instructed that the notion of ‘Europe’ should go beyond the European Union and should be understood as ‘Greater Europe’.

The semi-structured interview instrument consisted of three phases:

1. An open discussion about the current security and foreign policy situation in Europe. Guiding questions were:

  • What concrete challenges have shaped the landscape of foreign policies of European countries as well the security situation in Europe in recent years?
  • Can you broadly describe the current security situation in Europe?
  • How did the current situation emerge?

2. A summary of the discussion and identification of key corresponding categories was compiled together with the participants, as well as a focused reflection on how every category was understood. The content was limited to the aspects introduced by the participants. The moderators provided no additional external information or content.

The main goal of the first two phases was to gain access to country specific expert-knowledge.

3. A subsequent guided discussion focused on necessary political steps to improve the status quo. In this phase, the experts were put in the virtual role of policy advisors. To provide comparability, the dimensions of the guided focus were the same as in the survey.

The main goal of this phase was to gain access to the shared underlying perspective, with which the experts participate in the current political discourse.

The criteria for including the experts in the sample were that they had (a) proven expert-knowledge, which is acknowledged within the country specific expert-discourse and (b) influence on the political discourse within the country. Expert group discussions were realised in each country with between five and seven experts involved in each discussion. The duration of the discussion varied between 120 and 140 minutes. ‘Chatham House Rules’ were applied to protect the participants from possible repercussions. 

After each discussion, the moderators compiled a verbatim protocol from memory. Furthermore, the discussion was recorded and transcribed for content and mind-set analyses. Finally, after content and mind-set analyses for each country were completed, the results were triangulated with the results of the public opinion poll.


What our FES Partners think about the Security Radar

Kristin Linke · FES Germany

»I believe that the results of the FES Security Radar contribute to a better understanding of national threat perceptions in Europe.

The results should be discussed among experts and decison-makers in Germany with the aim of developing policy recommondations in the field of European security policy.«

Tobias Mörschel · FES Latvia

»Due to its historical experience and geopolitical situation, security is of paramount importance for Latvia. The results of the Security Radars provide an accurate insight into the fears and insecurities of the Latvian population.

The results will enable FES Riga and its close partners to provide targeted policy advice in Latvia and thereby contribute to the discourse for a safer Europe.«

Peer Teschendorf · FES Russia

»The dialogue between Western and Russian decision-makers about international conflicts and cooperation is quite often stalled by mutual accusations of the aggressive behavior of the other. The Security Radar draws attention away from perceived state behavior and its criticism to the very concrete fears of the people. By enriching the mutual understanding, the study helps to shift the focus of the discussion to the very sense of international cooperation, improving security for the people.« 

Marcel Röthig · FES Ukraine

»Without a doubt Ukraine is the security hotspot of Europe. The ongoing crisis in and around Ukraine shows that the existing systems of cooperative security in the region have serious gaps and weaknesses. The need for security for Ukraine is more than ever an important factor for the survival of the young and vulnerable Ukrainian democracy. It is therefore immanently important to include the security and threat perception of Ukrainian experts and analysts in this pan-European study. Likewise, the Ukrainian positions should be included in the realignment of European security.«

Stefan Dehnert · FES France

»The proceedings of the Security Radar from the FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe gave us an excellent opportunity to reunite important representatives of the French Think-Tank community dealing with foreign and security policy to debate the perception of insecurity in different European countries. The findings of this study will serve the purpose of a so much needed pan-European dialogue on security issues. We therefore salute enthusiastically this project driven from our colleagues in Vienna.« 

Ernst Hillebrand · FES Poland

»The Security Radar is an important initiative, especially from the point of view of a country like Poland, which has its own view on the security challenges and their possible solutions.

The involvement of Polish experts helps building bridges and takes into account the views of all regional stakeholders.«

Max Brändle · FES Serbia

»The foreign policy debate in Serbia is focused on the Kosovo conflict and the European Integration process which is often perceived as standing in competition with the development of closer ties to Russia. Therefore, we are sure that we can make an important contribution to the debate on foreign policy and stability in the Western Balkans on the basis of the Security Radar from the FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe.«