Keywords: European Public Sphere; European Parliament; Institutional Communication; Social Media; Facebook.
The challenge of a limited media coverage of European politics is considered as one of the main constrains to the developement of a European public sphere. On the one hand European institutions do not have their own media and even their communication channels reach out merely to a European elite, while European newsproduction still gains marginal attention in member states' traditional media. As a result of this complex mediatic scene, the absence of direct information and reach out on European themes has contributed to an increasing general mistrust towards the European Union. In this regard, the diffusion of social media and their use by the European institutions have contributed to the appearance and prevalence of a new space where direct interaction among citizens and institutions can emerge. This facilitates the flow of information and stimulates a transnational dialogue. The potentiality of the new forms of institutional communication are explored by this study focusing on the objectives, role and functioning of the European Parliament's Facebook fan page by both investigating the opinion of its promoters and analysing the main features of the fan page (i.e. contents published, general performance and characteristics of users).