Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

The Evolution of Crisis Frames in the European Commission’s Institutional Communication (2003–2022)

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Abstract:  Historical accounts of the EU recurrently turn to crisis as a periodizing or structuring concept, reflecting the observation made by scholars that crisis has become a permanent feature of the social construction of our social and political reality. The concept of crisis can also be exploited for strategic purposes by political actors pursuing various policy agendas. Our article analyzes the discursive uses of crises by one of the central institutions of the EU, the European Commission, based on a corpus of press releases that referred to crisis (N = 4,414) going back two decades (2003–2022). Thus, our article examines crisis as a political language and its discursive uses. We ask: (a) how salient is the topic of “crisis” in the European Commission’s communication; (b) what are the main domains in which the crisis frame has been activated, from geographical scope to policy areas; (c) how did the deployment of crisis frames change in time along major policy areas like economy, migration, or climate change; and (d) in what terms has the crisis-frame been activated, and how does crisis word use vary by region and policy area. Methodologically, we pursue these research questions using text-as-data methods, combining natural language processing tools for identifying geographical scopes, actors, and policy areas with corpus methods for identifying keywords and collocates and manually coding the latter, relying on qualitative and quantitative reasoning. Our research contributes to understanding the dynamics of EU policy framing in times of crisis.

Keywords:  crisis communication; crisis framing; crisis policy framing; European Union; policy areas; policy framing; public communication; public diplomacy



© Hanna Orsolya Vincze, Delia Cristina Balaban. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.