Dansk EU-skepsis – Et Ungdomsfænomen? En aldersspecifik analyse af danskernes EU-skepsis og de danske hverdagsavisers rolle i forhold til meningsdannelsen

Lena Milo Eriksen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the early days of the European project, the impact and reach of euroscepticism was not of great concern. Most traditional integrationists did not consider public opinion, as the project at that time was mostly an elite-driven project. However, euroscepticism has grown to become a central concern for the European actors. Today, the phenomenon is considered powerful and an obstacle to further integration. Therefore, Euroscepticism has become an important and highly prioritized issue on the European agenda. The Danes have long been known for their relative high degree of euroscepticism – an image that has lasted from the Danish ‘no’ to the Maastricht Treaty up until today. However, the analysis shows that the Danes are not distinctively characterized by a direct opposition to membership of the Union. Rather the Danish euroscepticism seems to be particularly attached to identity factors and to some extent to sovereignty-based factors, which is mostly pronounced in regard to the welfare state. In many other respects, the Danes consider the EU as a competent alternative to the state in finding solutions to international issues. Earlier, many integrationists and researchers believed in the “generation hypothesis”, which suggested a gradual shift towards more positive attitudes and increasing support for the EU, as new generations came along. However, the hypothesis has shown to be incompetent. Conversely, the analysis shows that the young generations in Denmark have a tendency to be the most eurosceptic compared to older generations. At the same time, the young Danes are the least well-informed about the EU. As the media is a key component in the information age and as most Europeans look to the media for information about the EU, there is a probability that the media plays a decisive role in the creation of public opinion towards the EU. The analysis focuses on selected Danish newspapers and implies that the choice of media has an influence on the attitude towards the EU. As the EU makes up a rather difficult issue to cover, because of the abstractness of the issue, the competition for readers and the limits of the news criteria, which do not often comply with stories about the EU, the newspapers have different priorities in regard to the coverage of the EU. The analysis shows that there is great variation in choice of newspapers among the different age groups. As the younger Danes tend to read those newspapers, which have the most limited coverage of the EU, the older generations tend to read newspapers with a broader coverage. The results of the analysis imply that lacking or limited knowledge of the EU seems to cause euroscepticism. Accordingly, information and knowledge seem to result in support. Furthermore, the content of the information seems to be just as important as the degree of information, as there is a tendency for the readers of more negative information to be among the most eurosceptic citizens. Therefore, the Danish newspapers play an important role in forming public opinion towards the EU. The media which address the younger generations may therefore have a real opportunity to change the persistent euroscepticism among the youth in Denmark. Based on the conviction that support for the European Union is essential to the further integration process, the results of the analysis imply that there is a need to increase the spread of knowledge of the EU. This is especially needed in relation to the young Danes and suggests that it may be effective to start focussing on the media that are used by the young generations.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2008
Number of pages72