1st Edition

The European Union and the Public Sphere A Communicative Space in the Making?

Edited By John Erik Fossum, Philip R. Schlesinger Copyright 2007
    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    336 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The European Union is often attacked for its ‘democratic deficit’, namely its deficiencies in representation, transparency and accountability, as well as its lack of popular support. Can these shortcomings be counteracted by the development of a viable European public sphere?

    This book assesses the possible formation of a communicative space that might enable and engender the creation of a transnational or a supranational public. The contributors consider the EU’s democratic credentials and how well it communicates, and they also evaluate the major institutions and their links to general publics.

    The European Union and the Public Sphere emphasizes a ‘deliberative democratic’ perspective on the public sphere, addressing some key questions:

    • What are the prospects for a European public sphere?
    • Should we think in terms of the EU having a single public sphere, or are overlapping public spheres a more viable option?
    • What do this book’s findings on the question of the public sphere tell us about the EU as a political entity?

    Students and scholars of European democracy, political communication, and the politics of institutions will all be greatly interested by this book.

    1. The European Union and the public sphere: a communicative space in the making?
    John Erik Fossum and Philip Schlesinger

    PART I: Communicative practices and a European public sphere
    Philip Schlesinger and John Erik Fossum

    2. Conceptualizing European public spheres: general, segmented and strong publics
    Erik Oddvar Eriksen

    3. The public sphere and European democracy: mechanisms of democratization in the transnational situation
    Klaus Eder

    4. A fragile cosmopolitanism: on the unresolved ambiguities of the European public sphere
    Philip Schlesinger

    PART II: Assessing Europe’s general public(s)
    Philip Schlesinger and John Erik Fossum

    5.  ‘Quo vadis Europe?’ Quality newspapers struggling for European unity
    Hans-Jörg Trenz

    6. Political communication, European integration and the transformation of national public spheres: a comparison of Britain and France
    Paul Statham

    7. The European void: the democratic deficit as a cultural deficiency
    Abram de Swaan

    8. Political integration in Europe and the need for a common political language
     Lars Chr. Blichner

    9. EU enlargement, identity and the public sphere
    Maria Heller and Ágnes Rényi

    10. Religion and the European public sphere
    François Foret and Philip Schlesinger

    11. The public sphere in European constitution-making
    John Erik Fossum and Hans-Jörg Trenz

    PART III: Institutional conditions and the European context
    John Erik Fossum and Philip Schlesinger

    12. European commissioners and the prospects of a European public sphere: information, representation and legitimacy
    Andy Smith

    13. Transparency, audiences and the evolving role of the EU Council of Ministers
    Deirdre Curtin

    14. Transnationalising the public sphere? The European Parliament, promises and anticipations
    Ulrike Liebert 

    15. Conclusion
    Philip Schlesinger and John Erik Fossum



    John Erik Fossum is Professor of Political Science at ARENA, Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo, and Professor at the University of Bergen, Norway.

    Philip Schlesinger is Professor of Cultural Policy in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies and Academic Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow, UK.