EU Trade Relationship Graph Fail

If there’s one rule, it is that cheating isn’t winning.

Well, it seems that the European Union forgot its elementary school advice that cheats never prosper.

As UK-EU trade talks get underway, the flurry of spin begins.

It’s one thing to generalise through dataviz, amplify slightly even for ease of point-making. Yet quite another to willfully obfuscate to highlight your fictitious pitch angles.

They were trying to suggest the red bubble so much dwarfs the rest that how the others are dealt with is not applicable. Trying to overcomplicate, string out and gain unearned concessions for themsleves.

The EU’s spin fails even worse when you add in the US, China and Russia:

Oh dear.

There are sites around the web that revel in uncovering daily such misleading charts of one-eyed officialdom dictatorial hubris. In this case, there’s also a few hardy tweeters.

To fully spell out the visuals crime, take by way of example the small top-right bubbles of their initial ‘pitch’;

“Unfortunately for the EU, the graphic they used to make their point massively distorts the data – showing artificially small bubbles representing the amount of EU trade with countries that are further afield. The Japanese bubble (€117.1 billion in 2018), for example, should be around one quarter the size of the UK’s (€516.6 billion in the same year). Instead, the Commission shrunk it to just one-sixteenth the size.”

Changing the representation of a value by a factor of four is never acceptable. Here, trying to palm off the percentage 6.25 as 25. And that wasn’t the only shocking alteration to show their view in less dark shade, more sunny upland light.

When you get even shamelessly pro-EU people describe this chart as “indefensible“ and going against “standard graphical practice“, you know there’s a problem.

Whilst a rare issue to have prepping a pitch slide for either deck or Prop insertion, there are times a bubble chart is a winner. For this reason, it is good to note the way to properly handle this niche yet powerful visual sales tool:

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