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Hakan G. Sicakkan

The term ‘Eurosphere’ is of central importance if we want to properly understand the European public sphere, for without the Eurosphere a European public sphere cannot materialize. The Eurosphere is a concept that was invented by the European Union’s founding generation. They defined the phenomenon as the sphere of those who participate in the European integration processes actively, those who are directly affected by its consequences, and those who affect the integration process by expressing ‘solidarity with the European’. In other words, the Eurosphere is the vertical, top-down, trans-European communicative space of pro-EU and pro-diversity elites and citizens. It is a part of the larger public sphere of Europe. This chapter posits the constitutive role of the Eurosphere in the ongoing formation of a European public sphere. It first presents a brief history of the making of the Eurosphere by the founding fathers of the European Union. Next, linking the two terms causally in a pluralist agonistic perspective, the chapter argues that the Eurosphere has a constitutive role in the formation of the European public sphere. Then it identifies the public spaces, publics, social and political actors (adversaries) and political cleavages and agons that constitute the agonistic public sphere in a transnational setting. Finally, it suggests an analytical framework suited for studying the European public sphere.

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Robert Sata

Literature on European integration frequently states an elite–citizens gap in European politics, partly owing to the fact that European political parties do not compete on European but domestic issues. At the same time, national parties successfully formed European party groups to compete in the European arena, and access to the European Parliament (EP), the Council or other institutions of the EU is mainly through the channels of party politics. Yet it is unclear whether parties manage to link national constituencies with the EU or national loyalties impact negatively on the possibilities of a European public sphere. Such a European public sphere is feasible only if the interests of citizens and national and European elites can be aligned to some extent. Conflict and contestation are part of the public sphere, yet some commonality must be present for the potential of the European public sphere to materialize. The chapter analyzes these issues by examining alignments and misalignments between stances and objectives of national political elites and European party groups. Interview data are used to analyze the stances and objectives of the national political elites, while we position the different European political groups based on their votes in the EP. Enlisting the stances and objectives of the national and European party elites enables us to analyze how the European public sphere is articulated and, even more importantly, to identify possible areas of contestation among the different arenas. An examination of differences between the positions of the national political elite and those of the European party groups provides a deeper insight into the actual importance of European parties, and the feasibility and acceptability of a common European public sphere of political elites.

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Marybel Perez

Think tanks contribute to the definition and reproduction of ideas through the dissemination of books and reports, appearing in interviews, lecturing at educational institutions, and so on. Through these activities, think tanks create links between different kinds of actors, and through their policy analysis they contribute to the definition and reproduction of discourses that shape the public sphere. Drawing on think tank scholarship and research conducted in the Eurosphere project, this chapter discusses how think tanks contribute to the moulding of the public sphere at transnational and global levels where structures of communication are complex and fragmented. To this end, the analysis focuses on EU think tanks’ participation in EU policymaking. The chapter posits that EU think tanks contribute to the trans-European public sphere by creating platforms for interaction and socializing ideas.

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Deniz Neriman Duru and Hans-Jörg Trenz

This chapter explores the ways in which social networking media provide platforms for transnational encounters that represent diversity in the local space, Copenhagen in Denmark. By analysing the socialization and cultural self-representation of expats, mobile foreign citizens (both EU and non-EU), the authors argue that social networking media shift the frontiers of identities between expats and locals, and catalyse a new spirit of hybridity and creative ‘playing with diversity’ that becomes characteristic for the local public sphere. The authors suggest a multidimensional analysis of social networking media, as a bridging element between the governmental support, civil society, host society and expats, by using mixed methods – social media content analysis, a social media online survey, netnography, ethnography and qualitative interviews. The particular use of social media by mobile citizens points towards the construction of a cultural public sphere, which is not simply virtual: expats and expat support groups use social media to build transnational networks, and interact face to face with the locals (Danes), people from their country of origin, and other like-minded mobile foreigners, and this creates a sense of belonging to the particular city-place where they actually live. Mobility and citizenship rights as facilitated by the Europe of free movement in this sense contribute to the consolidation of a European public sphere, which is not based on sharp distinctions but where transnational encounters are rather kept in flow with an elite group of EU mobiles and other less privileged (EU and non-EU) migrants in constant exchange with each other.

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Wanda Dressler

This chapter discusses whether the new plural set of political relations arising from the EU’s territorial transformation and diversity accommodation policies may facilitate the creation of an agonistic European public sphere. The EU’s approach to territorial diversity comprises two dimensions with combined impact on the formation of a European public sphere. The first dimension relates to the variety of the novel institutional ways in which territories of the member states are transformed into an open common space. The second dimension concerns the various ways in which the EU seeks to accommodate diversity, from the European to the national and local scales, through diverse European instruments. These two dimensions may potentially seem to serve contradictory ends, but combined they contribute to the emergence of a new set of political interactions across national borders, administrative levels and territorial scales. The chapter shows how the regionalization process brought about a new diversity structure within a transformed, integral European territorial space. Because the current multilevel and cross-border territorial organization and the increased poly-ethnic features within it are far too complex and considerably more conflict-laden than mainstream public sphere theories assume, the chapter concludes that an agonistic perspective is a more realistic approach to the European public sphere.

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Monika Mokre

European media policies can be understood as attempts to create a vertical trans-European space linking national constituencies with the EU. Their history shows (1) a clear focus on the removal of market distortions as a general trait; (2) a politicization of these debates understanding media as a precondition of a European identity, a European public sphere and, thus, European democracy in the 1980s; and (3) a considerable loss of ambition since the failure of Europa TV continuing up to now. Summarizing, one can state that EU media policies have proven successful in reducing national barriers for broadcasting and establishing a single European media market, but they did not succeed in providing centralized forms of information distribution and exchange. The empirical results of the Eurosphere project have shown a possible alternative to this centralized approach in transnational exchange of news and the attempts of journalists to include a European dimension in media coverage. In the long run, this could lead to agonistic European public spheres not exclusively structured by national cleavages. The chapter recommends financial support for such activities in mass media as well as in digital media and, especially, for media of transnational minorities in the EU. The focus here should lie not in promoting the successes of European integration but, rather, in furthering agonistic European discourses.

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Hakan G. Sicakkan

To what extent has the Eurosphere – the vertical, top-down communicative public space of pro-European elites and citizens in Europe – succeeded in constituting a European public sphere? This chapter discusses whether the different horizontal and vertical networks of organizations at different levels, their discursive patterns and the Europe-infused national media framings might be regarded as the beginnings of a base for the emergence of a common European public sphere. To answer this question, the author develops an analysis frame based on the neo-functionalist assumption that European integration is similar to a general state- and nation-building model. He posits that, for this to be true, the European Union’s ambition regarding integration should be embraced by the pan-European and national elites as well as national mass media and compares the citizenship and diversity discourses of national and pan-European elites with media framings and EU policies. He finds that the EU policies to create a European citizen identity are partly reflected in the national public spheres. The exclusionary implications of the European Union’s citizenship and diversity policies are not discernible in trans-European elite discourses, but highly reflected in national media framings and national elite discourses. Thus, national media seem to reflect the preferences of national elites and the premises behind the European Union policies better than they do the preferences of trans-European elites. This is because the trans-European elites are more exposed to the values of a truly transnational institution, the European Commission, whereas the European Union’s laws and policies are directly affected by the national elites through the Council of Ministers.

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Exploring the EU’s Legitimacy Crisis

The Dark Heart of Europe

Christian Schweiger

Exploring the EU’s Legitimacy Crisis provides a profound analysis of the causes and the consequences of the EU's growing legitimacy problem. The prior permissive consensus in the EU has been markedly declining under persistent crisis conditions. Since the onset of the eurozone crisis the EU's governance has been narrowly driven by the semi-hegemonial leadership of Germany – manifesting itself in functionalist and technocratic policy reforms concentrated on strengthening economic governance coordination. Other crucial policy areas have been neglected as member states show decreasing solidarity and a growing emphasis on national interests in response to mounting external challenges. This book examines these developments in detail by scrutinising the EU's ability to maintain legitimacy through political leadership, democratic accountability and governance efficiency.