How political parties frame European integration


Marc Helbling, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), Reichpietschufer 50, D–10785 Berlin-Tiergarten, Germany. Tel.: +49 (0)30 254 91 449; E-mail:; Homepage:


This article analyses how political parties frame European integration, and gauges the consistency of their argumentation. Over the course of investigation, one can see how actors' positions are justified, and how the European Union is perceived (i.e., what forces give rise to Euroscepticism and Europeanism). It is argued here that the parties' framing of issues depends on the interests they traditionally defend at the national level, their general positions on European integration, and whether or not they belong to the established political actors in their respective countries. The coding approach enables the relation of frames to actors and positions, moving beyond the techniques employed by existing studies that analyse the media presentation of European integration. Sophisticated frame categorisations are provided to capture the complex structure of argumentation, going beyond a simple dichotomy of economic and cultural frames. Relying on a large and original media dataset covering the period 2004–2006, six Western European countries are investigated.