Towards a Europeanised Public Sphere? Comparing Political Actors and the Media in Germany
On the assumption that integration from above must be accompanied by the creation of a European public sphere, the paper looks closer at debates of European issues in Germany. Analyses of political debates show that the media are quintessential actors in their own right – and especially so in their promotion of a European political space.
Ruud Koopmans and Barbara Pfetsch
The paper argues that European integration from above must be accompanied by a Europeanisation of public communication in order to overcome its lack of legitimacy and popular involvement. It relates to the emerging scientific discussion on the Europeanisation of public spheres as a start for inquiry and presents findings on the contents and nature of public claim making and debate on European issues in Germany. The media are seen as prime actors in the public sphere that not only convey the issues of other actors in public debate but also speak in their own voice and thus possess the potential to influence the public agenda towards favourable European frames and positions. We investigate whether the media, in comparison with other actors, operate as a motor of Europeanisation or rather slow down the process. For the empirical part of the paper, we draw on data from the project "The Transformation of Political Mobilisation and Communication in European Public Spheres" (Europub.com). We analyse the communication through which political actors and the media make public demands on European issues on two levels: First, all claims made by collective actors that appear in the news section are content analysed for four German print-media outlets, which reach different types of publics. Second, the claims made by media themselves in the commentary section are retrieved and analysed. The findings show that the claims made by the media and the frames that are advocated by them are generally more European in scope and more positive towards European governance than those by other political actors, which tend to deemphasise European dimensions of issues and take more critical positions on European integration and EU institutions.