Working paper

You’ll never talk alone: what media narratives on European reforms reveal about a polity in the making

In this paper, we have analysed the coverage of reforms in a European context in the leading business newspapers in the three biggest EU member states

Publishing date
06 December 2022
WP 19

This paper analyses the discourse since 2001 in three leading national business newspapers about reforms in the European Union: Handelsblatt (Germany), Il Sole (Italy) and Les Echos (France). We collected and organised a large dataset of articles published in these three newspapers. We used topic modelling to identify latent topics across articles. Based on this database, we then addressed four research questions and found: a relative degree of synchronisation of reform debates across the three countries; comparable reporting patterns, especially around the main crises; a greater degree of direction of the debate towards European issues over national issues in Germany than in France and Italy; and the tentative emergence of a shared narrative about crises. Finally, we highlight that bringing conflict and contestation back into European discussions may help stimulate wider interest in European matters.

The authors thank Rebecca Christie, Maria Demertzis, John Erik Fossum, Scott Marcus and André Sapir for their comments.

This working paper is an output from the EU3D project, which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 822419.


About the authors

  • Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol

    Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol was a Visiting Fellow at Bruegel in 2015 and he is now a Non Resident Scholar. He is Professor of International Economic History at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on European economic and monetary cooperation since 1945, sovereign debt crises and global governance. He is Principal Investigator of the project “EURECON: The Making of a Lopsided Union – Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992” funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

    Emmanuel gained his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence and has held several visiting appointments at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2015-2019), the University of Economics in Prague (2015) and the University of Tokyo (2020). Prior to coming to the University of Glasgow, Emmanuel held the Pinto Postdoctoral fellowship at the London School of Economics. He is the author of A Europe Made of Money: the Emergence of the European Monetary System (Cornell University Press, 2012) and co-editor of International Summitry and Global Governance: the Rise of the G-7 and the European Council, 1974-1991 (with Federico Romero, Routledge 2014). His work has appeared in Business History, Cold War History, Contemporary European History, Diplomacy & Statecraft, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, and West European Politics, among others. You can find more information on his personal website.

  • Henrik Müller

    Henrik Müller is a professor of economic policy journalism at the Institute of Journalism at TU Dortmund University, Germany. He studied economics at Kiel University and holds a doctorate degree in economics from the University of the Armed Forces Hamburg. Following a career in journalism, his last position being deputy editor-in-chief at manager magazin, the leading German business monthly, he joined  TU's faculty in 2013 to start a new program in economic policy journalism (bachelor and master) and the Dortmund Center for data-based Media Analysis (DoCMA) in cooperation with colleagues from the departments for data science and statistics.

    Henrik is the author of numerous books on economic policy and a frequent commentator on current issues in the media. A new book on the rise of nationalism around the globe and its consequences is due to be published in Febuary 2017. Recent papers include "Fighting Europe's Crisis with innovative Media: a modest Proposal" (Journal of Business and Economics, forthcoming) and "De-globalisation, Populism and Media Competition: the Spiral of Noise" (Central Eastern European Journal of Communication, forthcoming).

  • Giuseppe Porcaro

    Giuseppe Porcaro leads the outreach activities of Bruegel, including communications, media, events, publications, and he hosts the Bruegel podcast series. He is responsible for membership relations, he supports the governance of the organisation, and is the board secretary. He also heads the Human Resources and he is part of the organisation's senior management. 

    Giuseppe's research interests lie with issues related to technological changes and how they affect policymaking and democracy, as well as to narratives about European futures and their policy implications in the current global geopolitical context.

    Giuseppe has been at Bruegel since 2014, and he has been head of communications and events until 2019. He has been Secretary-General of the European Youth Forum between 2009 and 2014, UN and Global Affairs coordinator at the Youth Forum from 2007 to 2009, and previously worked at the World Bank in Kosovo and Paris as well as the European Office of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement. Giuseppe holds a Ph.D. in Geography of Development at the University of Naples "L'Orientale". He is also a science-fiction writer, and author of a novel about Europe and the future of democracy.

    He is fluent in English, Italian, French, and Spanish.

  • Tobias Schmidt

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