Trade talks over the proposed EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been overshadowed in the media by the voices of critics, according to a recent analysis of the news cycle. Underlying the criticism is a concentration of news coverage are negative comments by European leaders which have gotten outsize coverage. German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel received considerable media coverage when he commented that TTIP talks between the EU and US “have failed”. Only two days later, French President Francois Hollande expressed doubt that a deal would be reached this year. These comments were widely covered, adding to a constant stream of negative coverage relating to the trade deal.

In April, an analysis by Hamilton Place Strategies revealed media coverage dominated by critics of the TTIP, and outlined the need for the private sector and the business community to provide a more convincing narrative of the potential benefits of the deal. A review of coverage from August 28th showed that the situation has failed to improve, with 95 percent of coverage negative, and the remaining 5 percent merely neutral. By August 30th, negative coverage and criticism still made up 73 percent of overage, with 13 percent neutral and 14 percent positive. On the 30th, blogs and activist web sites accounted for 15 negative stories and 2 positive stories. Local news accounted for 2 negative stories, while national level news included 23 negative stories and 6 positive ones. Even trade publications offered a 7 to 1 ration of negative to positive coverage.

Analysis revealed that activist blogs and critics seem to be successfully shaping the narrative surrounding the trade deal, with national news coverage of negative comments from politicians seeming to support this critical narrative. Critics are more directly engaged in the debate than supporters, and until supporters of the deal earn more positive coverage on local news, and begin leveraging blogs and social media, this is likely to remain the case.

The TTIP aims to reduce barriers to goods and services traded between the EU and the US. Negotiations have focused on matters such as making regulations regarding health, safety, and the environment more compatible, as well as on regulations to protect the rights of investors. Supporters argue that the TTIP will increased GDP growth for both the EU and US, create jobs, and provide cheaper goods for consumers. Negotiations began in June of 2013. The agreement will need the approval of the European Parliament, the United States Congress, and EU member states.

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