Translating the complexity of EU differentiation: A comparative analysis of news coverage in Germany, Denmark, and the UK

Resul Umit, Asimina Michailidou, Hans-Joerg Trenz
(2024) Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 1–18

DOI  pdf

This article explores whether and how journalists cover various forms of differentiation in the European Union (EU) in the news. Differentiation is a key feature of European integration, viewed by some as a facilitator of democracy and by others as a mechanism leading to dominance. Yet we know only little how its complex and controversial aspects are communicated to the citizens by journalists in their role as public mediator and critical watchdogs. Drawing on a selection of news reports published between 2015 and 2020 in nine media outlets from Germany, Denmark, and the UK, we find that the media frequently covers EU differentiation in a range of forms that extends beyond the conventional academic focus on territory-based differentiated integration. The majority of this coverage presents a balanced view, yet nuances emerge with respect to the forms of differentiation discussed and the origins of commentary on these matters. Overall, these results point to the key role of the media as translators and watchdogs of the complexity of EU governance.