New book: The European Union and the Public Sphere

A new book, edited by John Erik Fossum and Philip Schlesinger, was recently published by Routledge. The book The European Union and the Public Sphere focuses on what the prospects are for a ‘citizens’ Europe’ and places particular emphasis on the notion of a European public sphere, that is, a communicative space that might enable and engender the formation of a transnational or a supranational public.

The European Union and the Public Sphere: A communicative space in the making?

John Erik Fossum and Philip Schlesinger (eds), Routledge, 2007


This volume, edited by John Erik Fossum (ARENA) and Philip Schlesinger, (University of Glasgow) was recently published in the Routledge Series on Democratising Europe. It emanates from the 2002-2005 CIDEL project (Citizenship and Democratic Legitimacy in the European Union), which was Financed by the European Commission’s Fifth Framework Programme for Research and coordinated by ARENA.

A viable public sphere is a central precondition for democracy because it enables widespread public debate. Analysts have consistently stressed that an important component of the European Union’s democratic deficit (that is, its deficiencies in representation and representativeness, transparency, accountability, and support) is the absence of a viable European public sphere. This book lays emphasis on a ‘deliberative democratic’ perspective, a theoretical conception of democracy particularly well suited to analyse the public sphere and how it relates to democracy. 

The book adresses the following questions:

  • What are the prospects for a European public sphere?
  • Is a uniform sphere needed, or are overlapping public spheres a more viable option?
  • What do our findings tell us about the EU as a polity?

There is considerable uncertainty – and disagreement – as to the character of the EU as a political system. The book therefore assesses the prospects for a European public sphere by using different models of the EU. It covers three main themes: how to theorise communicative practices in the EU, the working of general publics and the meida, and finally the key EU institutions and their implications for the public sphere. No such assessment has been undertaken before.

Contributions by Lars Blichner, Deirdre Curtin, Klaus Eder, Erik Oddvar Eriksen, François Foret, John Erik Fossum, Maria Heller, Ulrike Liebert, Ágnes Rényi, Philip Schlesinger, Andy Smith, Paul Statham, Abram de Swaan and Hans-Jörg Trenz.

See more at the CIDEL website or at the publisher’s website.