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The Unfinished Democratization of Europe$
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Erik O. Eriksen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572519

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572519.001.0001

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A Layered European Public Sphere

A Layered European Public Sphere

(p.119) Chapter 7 A Layered European Public Sphere
The Unfinished Democratization of Europe

Erik O. Eriksen

Oxford University Press

The development of post‐national democracy in Europe depends not merely on rights but also on the emergence of an overarching communicative space that functions as a public sphere. But is this possible when there is no collective identity? Although the EU is not a state, nor a nation, its development as a new kind of polity is closely connected to the formation of a common communicative space. Cooperation and problem‐solving create public spaces but have not produced a single, non‐exclusive, general European public sphere. Rather, we find a layered public sphere containing several transnational, segmented publics evolving around policy networks, as well as legally institutionalized discourses—strong publics, such as the EP, Comitology, the ECJ, and conventions. The lack of a truly European public sphere can be seen as the consequence of the democratic deficit, the deeper causes of which may result from a weak European civic solidarity.

Keywords:   European Union, European public sphere, layered public sphere, segmented publics, strong publics, civic solidarity, European Parliament, Comitology, convention, European Court of Justice

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