Exploring the EU’s social constituency: Patterns of public claims-making in constitutional debates in France and Germany

This article explores public voice formation and its potential impact on EU constitution making.

ARENA Working Paper 18/2007 (pdf)

Regina Vetters, Erik Jentges and Hans-Jörg Trenz

This article explores public voice formation and its potential impact on EU constitution making. A comprehensive perspective is introduced which analyzes the constitutionalization of the EU as a simultaneous and interacting process of polity building and constituency building. The EU’s social constituency is referred to as a particular constellation of public voice and resonance in the media in relation to European constitution making. Mass media are analyzed as the principal arena for amplifying ‘constitutional voice’ in the member states. Starting from a comparative outline of constitutional claims-making in quality newspapers in France and Germany between 2001 and 2005, the article focuses on ratification as a period of intense politicization on EU constitutional affairs. The article systematically compares how the signal for participation in the ratification process is taken up and transformed into plural voices and debates, and what kind of concerns and demands are put forward by different actors and affected parties within such debates. Finally, justificatory practices of defending particular visions of the EU as a legitimate order will be categorized. The main findings point to a domestically focused French media sphere in which the constitutional debate turned into a prime example of ‘contentious politics’. In contrast, German media took the position of an alert but passive observer of the debates in other member states. In this sense, the French debate assumed, at least partially, a substitute function in the German media.

This article has been published in Journal of European Public Policy Vol. 16, No.3, pp.412-430

Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM - Last modified Jan. 28, 2015 12:03 PM