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Shaping EU Policy from Below

EU Democracy and the Committee of the Regions

Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau

This book looks at the way in which the Committee of the Regions (CoR) can influence EU policy making from below, despite its relatively weak position in the decision-making process. Bringing together theoretical arguments about the central role of the formation of judgment in addition to the more conventionally emphasized expression of will, with an up-to-date account of the CoR's institutional development and activities, Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau make a strong case not to overlook the significance of the Committee's contribution to EU-level democracy.
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The EU and the Global Financial Crisis

New Varieties of Capitalism

Christian Schweiger

This authoritative book offers a complete breakdown of the EU’s political economy in the wake of the global financial crisis and will therefore appeal to students of European politics, international political economy and European studies, as well as policy-makers and other stakeholders.
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Edited by Hakan G. Sicakkan

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Hakan G. Sicakkan

The term ‘Eurosphere’ is of central importance if we want to properly understand the European public sphere, for without the Eurosphere a European public sphere cannot materialize. The Eurosphere is a concept that was invented by the European Union’s founding generation. They defined the phenomenon as the sphere of those who participate in the European integration processes actively, those who are directly affected by its consequences, and those who affect the integration process by expressing ‘solidarity with the European’. In other words, the Eurosphere is the vertical, top-down, trans-European communicative space of pro-EU and pro-diversity elites and citizens. It is a part of the larger public sphere of Europe. This chapter posits the constitutive role of the Eurosphere in the ongoing formation of a European public sphere. It first presents a brief history of the making of the Eurosphere by the founding fathers of the European Union. Next, linking the two terms causally in a pluralist agonistic perspective, the chapter argues that the Eurosphere has a constitutive role in the formation of the European public sphere. Then it identifies the public spaces, publics, social and political actors (adversaries) and political cleavages and agons that constitute the agonistic public sphere in a transnational setting. Finally, it suggests an analytical framework suited for studying the European public sphere.

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Wanda Dressler

This chapter discusses whether the new plural set of political relations arising from the EU’s territorial transformation and diversity accommodation policies may facilitate the creation of an agonistic European public sphere. The EU’s approach to territorial diversity comprises two dimensions with combined impact on the formation of a European public sphere. The first dimension relates to the variety of the novel institutional ways in which territories of the member states are transformed into an open common space. The second dimension concerns the various ways in which the EU seeks to accommodate diversity, from the European to the national and local scales, through diverse European instruments. These two dimensions may potentially seem to serve contradictory ends, but combined they contribute to the emergence of a new set of political interactions across national borders, administrative levels and territorial scales. The chapter shows how the regionalization process brought about a new diversity structure within a transformed, integral European territorial space. Because the current multilevel and cross-border territorial organization and the increased poly-ethnic features within it are far too complex and considerably more conflict-laden than mainstream public sphere theories assume, the chapter concludes that an agonistic perspective is a more realistic approach to the European public sphere.

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Monika Mokre

European media policies can be understood as attempts to create a vertical trans-European space linking national constituencies with the EU. Their history shows (1) a clear focus on the removal of market distortions as a general trait; (2) a politicization of these debates understanding media as a precondition of a European identity, a European public sphere and, thus, European democracy in the 1980s; and (3) a considerable loss of ambition since the failure of Europa TV continuing up to now. Summarizing, one can state that EU media policies have proven successful in reducing national barriers for broadcasting and establishing a single European media market, but they did not succeed in providing centralized forms of information distribution and exchange. The empirical results of the Eurosphere project have shown a possible alternative to this centralized approach in transnational exchange of news and the attempts of journalists to include a European dimension in media coverage. In the long run, this could lead to agonistic European public spheres not exclusively structured by national cleavages. The chapter recommends financial support for such activities in mass media as well as in digital media and, especially, for media of transnational minorities in the EU. The focus here should lie not in promoting the successes of European integration but, rather, in furthering agonistic European discourses.

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Hakan G. Sicakkan

To what extent has the Eurosphere – the vertical, top-down communicative public space of pro-European elites and citizens in Europe – succeeded in constituting a European public sphere? This chapter discusses whether the different horizontal and vertical networks of organizations at different levels, their discursive patterns and the Europe-infused national media framings might be regarded as the beginnings of a base for the emergence of a common European public sphere. To answer this question, the author develops an analysis frame based on the neo-functionalist assumption that European integration is similar to a general state- and nation-building model. He posits that, for this to be true, the European Union’s ambition regarding integration should be embraced by the pan-European and national elites as well as national mass media and compares the citizenship and diversity discourses of national and pan-European elites with media framings and EU policies. He finds that the EU policies to create a European citizen identity are partly reflected in the national public spheres. The exclusionary implications of the European Union’s citizenship and diversity policies are not discernible in trans-European elite discourses, but highly reflected in national media framings and national elite discourses. Thus, national media seem to reflect the preferences of national elites and the premises behind the European Union policies better than they do the preferences of trans-European elites. This is because the trans-European elites are more exposed to the values of a truly transnational institution, the European Commission, whereas the European Union’s laws and policies are directly affected by the national elites through the Council of Ministers.

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Deniz Neriman Duru and Hans-Jörg Trenz

This chapter explores the ways in which social networking media provide platforms for transnational encounters that represent diversity in the local space, Copenhagen in Denmark. By analysing the socialization and cultural self-representation of expats, mobile foreign citizens (both EU and non-EU), the authors argue that social networking media shift the frontiers of identities between expats and locals, and catalyse a new spirit of hybridity and creative ‘playing with diversity’ that becomes characteristic for the local public sphere. The authors suggest a multidimensional analysis of social networking media, as a bridging element between the governmental support, civil society, host society and expats, by using mixed methods – social media content analysis, a social media online survey, netnography, ethnography and qualitative interviews. The particular use of social media by mobile citizens points towards the construction of a cultural public sphere, which is not simply virtual: expats and expat support groups use social media to build transnational networks, and interact face to face with the locals (Danes), people from their country of origin, and other like-minded mobile foreigners, and this creates a sense of belonging to the particular city-place where they actually live. Mobility and citizenship rights as facilitated by the Europe of free movement in this sense contribute to the consolidation of a European public sphere, which is not based on sharp distinctions but where transnational encounters are rather kept in flow with an elite group of EU mobiles and other less privileged (EU and non-EU) migrants in constant exchange with each other.

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Marybel Perez

Think tanks contribute to the definition and reproduction of ideas through the dissemination of books and reports, appearing in interviews, lecturing at educational institutions, and so on. Through these activities, think tanks create links between different kinds of actors, and through their policy analysis they contribute to the definition and reproduction of discourses that shape the public sphere. Drawing on think tank scholarship and research conducted in the Eurosphere project, this chapter discusses how think tanks contribute to the moulding of the public sphere at transnational and global levels where structures of communication are complex and fragmented. To this end, the analysis focuses on EU think tanks’ participation in EU policymaking. The chapter posits that EU think tanks contribute to the trans-European public sphere by creating platforms for interaction and socializing ideas.

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Jan H. van de Beek and Floris Vermeulen

This chapter investigates the current state of the EU consultation system vis-à-vis (organizations of) ethnic and national minorities. First, the EU’s objectives concerning its consultation system are mapped, followed by an assessment of the discrepancy between these objectives and what minority organizations want. The following minority groups are considered: regional national minorities, Roma, Jews, Muslim immigrants and non-religious immigrants. Mainstream political parties are used as a control group. Large differences between groups are found in the degree of institutionalization of the EU consultation system, which is most developed for national regional minorities and Roma, and least for non-religious immigrants, where Jews have a proactive attitude and consultation of Muslim immigrants is increasing. Seen from the perspective of the ethnic groups, consultation is driven by the wish to participate (regional national minorities), protect religious rights (Jews, Muslim immigrants), influence EU foreign policy (Jews) and seek protection against discrimination (Roma). Seen from the perspective of EU institutions, gaining legitimacy (through being more representative and protecting minority rights) is the driving force, though the EU is not very successful in this respect.