Abstract.  This article sets out how the public sphere can be studied through an analysis of the content of a specific debate. A public discourse can be said to pertain to a European Union-wide public sphere where the discourse within the EU is significantly different from that developed in non-EU countries, where such differences are not nationally defined, and where the debates in individual newspapers (which provide the fora for a public sphere) should be connected on the basis of some underlying factors. These conditions are tested with a quantitative analysis of the newspaper debate in 1999 and 2000 on the sanctions of the EU-14 against Austria. To the extent that the conditions are found, it can be concluded that there exists a European public opinion. The objective of studying this specific case is to demonstrate that, as far as an EU issue is concerned, there are already signs of an EU transnational political community.