The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has published a survey on security threats in the European Union, with Russia and international criminal groups sharing second place among the international actors.
"Today, the top five perceived threats are, in descending order: cyber attacks; state collapse or civil war in the EU's neighbourhood; external meddling in domestic politics; uncontrolled migration into the country; and the deterioration of the international institutional order," ECFR said on its website. "There has been little change in the international actors they perceive to be most threatening: jihadists continue to top the list, with Russia and international criminal groups sharing second place, and North Korea in third."
According to ECFR, Europeans expect these threats to persist until at least 2028.
"The most significant threat pertains to Russia. With Russia's annexation of Crimea, perceptions of the country have shifted: in 2008, Europeans viewed Russia as the fourth largest threat they faced," it said.
ECFR says that concern about Russia is strongest in the east (Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Poland, and Finland), although Germany and the UK also perceive it as a major threat. "Estonia and Lithuania are especially worried about Russian meddling in domestic politics," it said.
"The most problematic division is in European states' perceptions of Russia, which seven countries regard as the most important to their security and six others as a significant threat, but which five, predominantly southern, countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, and Cyprus) view as no threat at all," ECFR says.
ECFR's new report maps the security profile of all EU member states based on a survey completed by a network of 28 associate researchers in April and May 2018 through interviews with policymakers and members of the analytical community, along with extensive research into policy documents, academic discourse, and media analysis.