What's the Talk in Brussels? Leveraging Daily News Coverage to Measure Issue Attention in the European Union

Abstract

Research on issue attention in the European Union has focused on the prominence of EU integration in domestic politics and media and, at EU level, on the salience of individual issues and legislative files, often in relation to lobbying. Existing EU-level measures of issue saliency, though, are limited in scope and periodicity and tend to reflect the policy priorities of a single institutional actor rather than that of the broader EU elite sphere. We present an alternative measure of issue attention leveraging the quasi-institutional nature of the Agence Europe daily bulletin which provides comprehensive but independent news coverage of EU affairs. We use text-mining techniques, including dynamic topic modelling, in combination with manual classification to map issue prevalence between 1979 and 2018. In addition to reporting validation results, we illustrate how our measure relates to other indicators of EU agenda formation and explain how researchers can make use of our new dataset.

Publication
European Union Politics