Gaffney, John. (1997) "Political rhetoric and European integration". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
This paper aims to examine the role of discourse in the EU integration process, and in particular its function and importance as a political, not just rhetorical, resources for the provision of legitimacy and in particular as a resource for political leaders. We shall argue that questions concerning the effectiveness and appropriateness of any European discourse or discourses are fundamental to the issue of political legitimacy in the European context, and that the legitimacy of the European Union depends upon the emergence of a European-level political discourse. National discourses are embedded and are effectively exploited by political leaders in the national contexts. At the European level, that is, within the European framework of political exchange between elites and non-elites, the interactions and mediations of languages, histories, cultures, symbols and myths are more fractured and less organised, while the absence of strong central institutions constrains the effective use of discourse by EU leaders. Anti-European discourse as a political resource challenges and counters claims to European legitimacy. Nevertheless, there exists a European discourse, even though it lacks institutional encadrement and strong mass allegiance. The developing trans-European party families are experiments in a shared and institutionally supported, and therefore politically oriented, European identity. It is the relation of Europe to national discourses and their evolution, in conjunction with the development of its own institutional setting, which will inform the process of legitimation of European integration. This paper will discuss some of the political problems surrounding the question of discourse.
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