A Privileged Channel for the EU’s Political Communication
This chapter deals with the EU institutions’ external communication and how it relates to the European public sphere(s). We argue that one of the preconditions for establishing a well-functioning European public sphere is that the EU institutions’ decision-making and political debates around policies and issues are organised in such a way that the European citizens 1) are informed of the actions of European political leaders and top executives in ways that appeal to a wide range of publics, and 2) are encouraged to discuss and enter in a dialogue about these issues in appropriate communicative spaces. We postulate that citizens’ levels of awareness and knowledge of EU matters depend on the EU institutions’ ability to reach European citizens directly or indirectly through a wide range of channels, including the mass media. Citizens’ participation in political debates, however, requires more than awareness and knowledge. It also requires a certain level of interest and involvement in European political issues. Hence, informing is not enough in itself, if the objective is to motivate citizens to engage in political debates, which we see as a prerequisite for the European public sphere(s). The EU institutions also need to communicate frames of interpretation around political issues. In this chapter we analyse the EU institutions’ external communication and specifically their media relations efforts, and suggest improvements in view of remedying some of the legitimacy problems that the EU is facing.
European Public Sphere: From Critical Thinking To Responsible Action, 2012, p. 129-146