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Towards a European public sphere?

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In this paper we address the alleged communication or public sphere deficit of the EU. We develop a systematic approach to the Europeanization of public spheres, which distinguishes three forms of Europeanized political communication: supranational, vertical and horizontal. We propose that the spatial reach and boundaries of public communication can be determined by investigating communicative flows and assessing the relative density of public communication within and between different geopolitical spaces. We apply this model to data on political claim making in seven issue fields in German print media in the year 2000. We find that the degree and forms of Europeanization of political communication vary considerably among policy fields. These differences are strongly linked to the extent and type (supranational or intergovernmental) of competencies of the EU in these fields. Contrary to the hypothesis of a public sphere deficit, the German mass media seem to quite accurately reflect the Europeanization of policy making, at least in those policy fields where a clear-cut transfer of competencies to the supranational EU level has taken place.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

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