The expansion of the European Union to include 10 new members, 8 of which were formerly part, or satelittes of the Soviet Union, has been understood as the reuniting of Europe. The integration of the two halves of the continent by peaceful means, which only 15 years ago were facing each other with nuclear weapons, is adjudged to be an epoch making triumph. The fulfillment of the European Union project depends upon successful communication and deliberation between the varied peoples of the continent. However, both within and without popular discourse national stereotypes influence the direction, tenor and resonance of cross-cultural communication. This paper examines how the British press made use of national stereotypes in the months before and after EU expansion on May 1st 2004 and explores their function, saliency and their potential influence for EU integration. The author maintains that the use of particular stereotypes is tied to the political orientation of specific newspapers and are utilised to construct a particular construction of reality. He also contends that an examination of stereotypes within the press can shed light upon the quality of contemporary political debate within our democracy.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.