Beate Kohler-Koch
Framing: the bottleneck of constructing legitimate institutions

Journal of European Public Policy, 2000: 7, issue 4, p. 513-531

There is a puzzlein EU institutional politics. On the record all core decision - makers are devoted to improving democratic legitimacy but institutional reforms are instead contributing to further diluting the link between the citizens and the decision - makers in Europe. The article argues that this contradiction should not be attributed to 'cheap talk' but above all should be seen as the outcome of framing. Interest and rational choice theories cannot explain the inconsistencies and deficiencies of reform strategies. Framing offers a more promising approach to evaluating what kind of conceptual models will prevail and why some gain precedence over others. Framing is a process of discriminating between various options. It follows a certain decision - making heuristic, it is highly context - specific, and it is dependent on the particular attributes of the issue at stake. A more systematic analysis of the dynamics of the framing process will help us to understand better the deficiencies of the institutional reforms.