The European public sphere: myth, reality or aspiration?

Cristian Nitoiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discussion about the public sphere only began to have significant relevance within the setting of the European Union in the middle of the 1990s when a growing degree of attention was directed towards European integration and the role of national and transnational media in providing thrust for it. Since then, the notion of the public sphere has been seen as a central feature of European democracies, shaping the coherence of political systems and decision-making processes. There has also been a tendency in the literature to perceive the European public sphere (EPS) as having positive effects on the EU by endowing it with legitimacy and providing a space where its institutions and leaders can be made more transparent and accountable. What is disputed throughout this scholarship is the possibility of creating an overarching European public sphere that would act as a transnational discursive space uniting various communication fluxes and actors from all strata of society. However, the answers provided by scholars for this puzzle are at most ambiguous or undecided and seem to be torn between viewing the EPS as aspiration, myth or reality. Bee, C. and Bozzini, E. (eds) (2010) Mapping the European Public Sphere: Institutions, Media and Civil Society. Farnham: Ashgate. Fossum, J. E. and Schlesinger, P. (eds) (2007) The European Union and the Public Sphere: A Communicative Space in the Making? Abingdon: Routledge. Koopmans, R. and Statham, P. (eds) (2010) The Making of a European Public Sphere: Media Discourse and Political Contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Risse, T. (2010) A Community of Europeans? Transnational Identities and Public Spheres. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Communication
  • Discourse
  • EU
  • European public sphere
  • Europeanisation


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