Lunch seminar with Julian Dederke

Media Attention, Politicization, and the CJEU’s Public Relations Toolbox – Discovering determinants of newspaper reports about CJEU decisions


Authoritative decisions can lead to public attention and politicization, no matter whether they are of legislative, executive or judicial character. However, judicial decisions are often considered as insulated from public attention. International courts (ICs) and their actions have for a long time been regarded as sheltered by the law that serves as a “mask and shield”.1 However, in light of ICs’ growing authority their decisions can be expected to no longer remain hidden behind a “’technical’ legal garb”1, but should increasingly be subject to media attention and public display. Amidst this trend, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) evolved as the most powerful IC. This bears potential for public attention and politicization. Newspapers as the main media of political coverage continue to be primary outlets for reports and opinions on collectively binding decisions. However, to date it is largely unclear under which circumstances newspapers report about the CJEU and its decisions. Based on these considerations the project addresses several research questions: (1) Which procedures and decisions of the CJEU appear in the media? (2) Under which conditions do newspapers report about CJEU decisions? (3) Is the CJEU successful in promoting judgements by means of press releases?

The project builds on newly collected empirical data on media coverage of more than 4,300 CJEU decisions in nine European quality newspapers. It delivers new insight into media attention and responses to CJEU cases. The project provides empirical evidence that the salience of CJEU decisions in newspapers depends on the standing of courts in the national political systems, characteristics of the court cases, the intensity of inter-institutional conflicts, and the Court’s public relations activities. Moreover, the results indicate that the CJEU is highly successful in selectively promoting judgments with help of press releases. The presentation will highlight the relevance of these findings for questions of the legitimacy, accountability, and public authority of ICs.

1 Burley, Anne-Marie, and Walter Mattli (1993). ‘Europe before the Court: A political theory of legal integration’, International Organization, 47:1, 41–76.

 All interested are welcome to attend. Registration is not necessary.