This article deals with the apparent contradiction between elite-driven supranational European integration and public information efforts by supranational political actors from the early 1950s. Supranational European integration relied on rational governance by independent experts which provoked a structural democratic deficit. Until the early 1970s public participation had never been the main preoccupation of supranational political actors who instead considered the ‘permissive consensus’ to be a precondition for progress towards further European integration. And yet, from the very beginning European supranational political actors pursued information policies. At first, the article reconsiders the rationale of supranational European integration and outlines the basic features of supranational information policies. Then, the article empirically analyses the purposes that guided supranational political actors like the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Commissions of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Community (EURATOM) in pursuing information policies at all by discussing two significant examples: the EC information efforts directed at young audiences and the participation of the EC in fairs and exhibitions. It is argued that information policies were only in part pursued to communicate European integration to the public or to influence public opinion on European integration issues. In fact, the main intention and impact of supranational information efforts was to foster transnational European integration and co-operation, for example between member state governments and administrations, non-governmental actors or associations.
European Communities (EC); Information policy; European integration theory; Supranationality; Communication theory
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