The Bermuda triangle in Bulgarian media of August: US – EU - UK

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, on the same page. SOURCE: Flickr/White House
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, on the same page. SOURCE: Flickr/White House

The US – EU trade tensions became pretty visible in August, at least according to Bulgarian media. Despite the softening of the tone at the end of the month, due to the G7 in Biarritz talks, the situation is far from resolved.

One of the reproaches that seems to weigh against the EU is the alleged action of the Europeans of manipulating the EURO currency in order to cheapen it. Something that – Lary Kudlow, US chief of the National Economic Council, said –  the US president Donald Trump doesn’t like at all, not to mention he believes that there is a slowdown in the growth of the Eurozone and blames for this the trade barriers that the EU built.

As Ursula von der Leyen occupied her chair as chief of the European Commission, clouds are gathering above the US tech giants, claims investor.bg. The paper republished an analyses which says that the EC has sanctioned mega-companies such as Google and Apple for breaking the competition law and now investigates Amazon.

But it’s not all fun and games inside the EU and Deutsche Welle thinks that Trump knows how to separate Merkel and Macron, weakening the EU position towards the US. That’s why the US president keeps testing the shaky German – French alliance and seems to have realized how different the interests of the two most powerful economies in the EU are, writes the analyst Michaela Vigel.

Iran is just as good as any other topic to feed the EU – US diplomatic row: while tensions are high between the muslim country and the US, France to play the middleman and have talks with the Iranians. “Not on behalf of me!”, reacted Trump and that triggered the he Foreign Minister of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, response: “France needs no authorization for its diplomatic moves towards Iran”, said Drian.

According to Asparuh Karastoyanov, economy analyst, the US – EU trade tensions might be the start of an economic warwhich would see the automotive sector hardly hit. If that’s to happen, the EU will turn its attention to Africa in an attempt to curb the losses.

No matter how many feuds France and Germany may share, their common adversary seems to be the big friend across the Atlantic. For instance, the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has expressed his negative opinion on Trump’s trade policy and warned about the effects that the US protectionist policy might have globally.

The G7 summit in Biarritz was a good opportunity for the world to look at the big players and try to understand what’s going on. And the premises were not necessarily calm: Donald Trump had threatened to impose tariffs to French wine in response to France’s idea of over-taxing the GAFA companies. But France was not alone in this: the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, replied to Trump and promised to retaliate in a similar manner: “It’s not the EU that started this fight, but we’re prepared for it.”

At the end of the summit, though, the winner was the French president, fakti.bg believes. “Checkmate! Macron has outplayed tricky Trump at the G7 meeting”, is the title of an analysis published in fakti.bg. To that also contributed the fact that Macron surprisingly invited the Iranian Foreign Minister to the summit and met with him to Trump’s irritation.

Boris Johnson, a love-hate relationship on both Atlantic shores

The intricate diplomatic choreography staged on both shores of the Atlantic was even more complicated by the Brexit. As if that was not hard enough to cope with, Boris Johnson won the race for the UK PM chair. At first glance, just what Brits  awaited for: a Reuters report, republished by “Focus”, says that most of the UK citizens believe that the new PM should take the UK out of the European Union “in any way”, even if it involves the cessation of parliamentary activities.  The same report is also published by btvnovinite.bg.

But new PM Boris Johnson is no easy partner for the EU, he said that the cooperation with the Union is terrible and expressed his belief that Brussels should be more available to compromise in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

At the moment, economic uncertainty following Brexit is worrying for the UK. But the US offered help: Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton was in London for a meeting with Boris Johnson and sent a message aimed at both the EU and UK – the US is willing to conclude a free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit, Brexit is a win situation for Britain.

Perhaps empowered by American support, Boris Johnson felt the need to tell the G7 partners, before the summit in Biarritz, that the UK is to keep having a leading role in world business after Brexit and all those saying otherwise are simply wrong.

Once in Biarritz, Johnson was even more insolent: there’s no way that the UK pays the Brexit “fine” of 39 billion pounds, as requested by the EU, the maximum amount Britain would pay is 9 billion pounds and October 31st is not negotiable.

After the Brexit, the UK PM kept on attacking the EU leaders and aimed at the chief of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. “A no-deal scenario will only be the UK’s decision, not the EU’s”, said Johnson. He added that the Irish border mechanism set by the actual deal is a big obstacle to achieving an agreement.

Refugees are back in Europe

August saw the revival of the refugees news trend in Bulgarian media. It all started with the warning that the US president issued to some of the EU countries: get ready to have in custody former ISIS fighters – that left your countries and we captured – , otherwise we’ll just set them free in Europe.

Towards the end of the month, the refugees threat was put on display by fakti.bg in an article headlined “A hole in the fence: refugees are coming to Europe!” following the illegal entry of more than a hundred African migrants in Ceuta, Spain, the first illegal entry in more than a year.

A more serious situation, though, was recorded in Greece, according to 24chasa.bg, under the headline „A new crisis: about 600 refugees from Turkey to Greece in just one day”. The new Greek PM, Kiriakos Mitsotakis, has taken emergency actions, but the media reports disclose a worrying situation: the Greek island of Lesbos refugee camp is 3,000-capacity, whereas there are more than 10,000 refugees in the camp now.

In August, the authors of this report examined 23 Bulgarian media outlets, the most relevant in terms of readership.

Most of the articles (15) were provided by bnr.bg.

Fakti.bg is ranked second (14 articles).

On the third place – investor.bg (13 articles).

68 of the collected articles could be classified as “neutral”. 28 of those are news, the other 40 – analyses.

43 articles are labeled “biased” (16 of them are news, 27 are analyses).

It is worth mentioning that investor.bg published almost entirely biased anti-US analyses.

 

* The authors of this analysis/study divided the media articles into two categories (news and analysis), each classified as biased or neutral. A geographical criterion was also used to link the media articles to the EU and the US. According to this study, a piece of news is nothing more but a short article covering a fact or a statement whereas an “analysis” may be a column, an investigative piece or any other type of article that is based on several facts and statements that are premises for the conclusion that the author of the article wishes to make public. The neutral characteristic is attributed to those news and analyses that use actual quotes (and not made up or out of context ones), rely on fact checking and logical syllogisms, provide side relevant data (context) in order for the public to get the bigger picture. News and analyses are labelled as biased when, on the contrary, the journalist’s work is not compliant with all of the above: quotes are partial and/or manipulated/manipulative, there’s no vetting process, neutral context is not added (and when there’s some context provided, facts are selected to match the conclusion – which, in this sort of cases, is pre-set – and not the other way round).

Based on this report: