The institutional discourse of the European Union (EU) is undergoing important changes that are also reflected by new initiatives in its communication policy. Against a background of widespread scepticism towards EU enlargement among the public, this change is driven by the need to promote the widening of its borders in a more effective way in order to prompt popular endorsement. Through the use of its textual and visual communicative strategies, the EU is thus finding new ways to buttress its legitimacy and raise consensus around its political actions. The node of interaction between citizens and institutions is represented by the informative publications of the EU (also made available on the europa website), which become a constitutive element in building Union-to-citizen communication. The analysis of textual and visual formulations of the European Commission’s key booklets on EU enlargement in the period from 2004 to 2007 - in terms of their content and pragmatic aims - reveals the emergence of new consensus-building strategies. Results show that a sense of allegiance and belonging attributed to a deepening of European integration is now increasingly linked to the practical advantages of EU enlargement, as expressed through the use of ‘promotional’ and strategic discursive practices. Moving away from a merely informative content, communication modes ‘migrate’ towards a more direct and ‘commodified’ type of message, while an increase in visual elements plays a complementing role in promoting legitimacy and a feeling of mutual belonging between ‘old’ and ‘new’ members of the European family.
discourse analysis, semiotic analysis, European enlargement, European identity
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