ABSTRACT

Today, the politicization of the European Union seems obvious and its advance inevitable, even if no one is quite sure where it will lead. From a vantage point in the early 2010s, when the Eurozone’s monetary policy is publicly debated and challenged across the region on a daily basis, it seems strange that less than a decade ago a primary concern of European elites was a lack of attention from citizens, political parties, and voters to the integration project. However, back in 2001, when at Laeken the EU’s elite embarked on a new Constitution-making process, their intention was to make the European Union into a meaningful political community by bringing the EU to the people in a way that had previously eluded them. In the end, these good intentions failed to lead to the promised land of a new EU democratic polity, not least because the elites’ plans were famously rejected by the French and Dutch people in referendums in 2005. Nonetheless, the controversies over the EU’s attempted Constitution-making, its failure, and subsequent fallout, sowed the seed for a process that occurs outside the control of elites and has advanced ever since: an increasing visibility for EU decisions in public debates in the mass media; and a growing contestation over EU decisions within the national politics of member states.