At the heart of most academic and political debates regarding the future of the European Union lie three key ideas: openness and transparency; citizens’ participation in the decision-making process; and democratic legitimacy. Scholars and EU policy-makers have advocated the use of new media, particularly the Internet, in the democratising process of the EU.
This article focuses on the top-down aspect of the online European public dialogue and the opportunities that the EU’s public communication strategy offers to citizens for involvement in shaping the Union’s political nature.Following a ‘multi-method’ approach for the gathering of empirical data, the Internet’s role in the EU’s public communication strategy is examined here from four aspects: the European Commission’s public communication policies (document analysis); the Commission’s implementation of its online policies (website analysis); their impact on key Internet audiences (user survey); and the views of policy-makers (semi-structured interviews with senior Commission officials).
new media, European Commission, democratic legitimacy, public communication, participation
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