The existence of a European public sphere, a public network of exchange of opinions and ideas on political issues, has come to be seen as a prerequisite for the democratic legitimacy of the European Union. The paper conceptualizes the Europeanization of the national public spheres as a gradual process that may occur on four different dimensions: 1. monitoring governance, 2. mutual observation, 3. discursive exchange, and 4. collective identification with Europe. It then presents the results of our empirical research on the transnationalization of public spheres in Europe: What is the prevailing pattern of Europeanization that can be observed in different countries of the EU?
We have conducted a quantitative content analysis of the political discourses in quality newspapers of five EU member states (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain) over a period of twenty years. According to our analysis of more than 3,000 articles the main pattern of transnationalization to be found in all countries is segmented Europeanization: Within each public sphere we find more and more talk about European institutions and policies but there is no indication of an increase in the debate in between the national public spheres. In addition, we find weak indications of a gradually developing European “we”-perspective.
Brüggemann, Michael; Sifft, Stefanie; Kleinen-v. Königslöw, Katharina; Peters, Berhard; Wimmel, Andreas (2006): Segmented Europeanization. The Transnationalization of Public Spheres in Europe. Trends and Patterns. TranState Working Paper 37. Bremen. Available online at http://www.state.uni-bremen.de/pages/pubApBeschreibung.php?SPRACHE=de&ID=40.