Tijdschrift voor Sociologie vol:32 issue:3-4 pages:329-354
In the debate regarding the possible development of a European public sphere, we distinguish three different approaches. The ‘sceptical’ approach argues that a European public sphere is neither feasible nor desirable in the absence of a strongly developed collective identity at the European level. The ‘functionalist’ approach believes in the development of a decentered European public sphere consisting of a series of ‘issue publics’ complementing and supporting the current European governance structures. We argue, however, in favour of a third, ‘political’ approach which advocates the further politicisation of European policy-making as a prerequisite for the formation of a sufficiently integrated, transnational European public sphere. Further politicisation would not only increase the quality of European decision-making, it would also, for the first time, allow European citizens to identify the European Union as a political project in which they collectively shape their common future.