Camerra-Rowe, Pamela. (2005) "Trouble Brewing? EU and Member State Public Health Policy and the European Beer Industry". European Policy Paper #10, November 2005. [Policy Paper]
[Summary]. During the past decade, the European Union (EU) has increased its competence in consumer safety and public health. Under Article 152 of the Amsterdam Treaty, for example, the EU is committed to ensure "a high level of health protection." This increased competence has allowed the EU to extend its regulatory reach. In the summer of 2005, the European Commission began to enforce a ban on advertising and sponsorship of cross border events by tobacco companies within the EU. This includes a ban on sponsorships of Formula One race car drivers by tobacco companies. The new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Markos Kyprianou, warned the alcoholic beverage industry earlier this year that it must stop marketing its products to young drinkers or the EU will take action in this area. Such Europewide regulations have been advocated by non-producer groups, which have increasingly mobilized in Brussels. The focus on public health issues poses new challenges to European business and has increased the incentives for firms and trade associations to mobilize more effectively in Brussels in order to influence the EU’s regulatory policies. This paper explores the political response of one sector of the economy – European beer brewing – to these new challenges. Beer brewing is an important industry in Europe. Europe is home to five of the six largest global beer producers. European beer brewers account for 60% of the world’s beer exports and 30% of global beer production. The European brewers are represented in Brussels by the Brewers of Europe (BoE), which is a confederation of 21 national associations and represents approximately 90% of beer producers in the EU-25. During the past few years, the brewers have restructured their trade association in Brussels and engaged in more aggressive lobbying in order to influence the EU’s policy-making process. In this paper, I seek to explain these changes by examining the increased concentration of the sector and the increased attention to public health by non-producer groups such as Eurocare7, the World Health Organization (WHO), some national governments, and the European Commission. I then analyze the extent to which the political activities of the brewers have shaped the debate over alcohol control in the EU. This case study on the European brewing sector and alcohol control policy allows me to explore several broader questions. These include: - What is the impact of industrial consolidation on collective mobilization? - How have market liberalization and the increased competence of the EU affected the debate over public health? - What is the relative effectiveness of industry and non-producer groups in the policy-making process? The paper draws on interviews with Commission officials, European and national trade association officials, and individual brewers, which I conducted in 1989-91 and in 2003-04. By conducting interviews over time, I can compare the changes in the political activities of the brewers before and after the major consolidation of the industry and before and after the emergence of major alcohol control groups and the accession of the Scandinavian countries to the EU. The paper is divided into six sections. The first section outlines the economic characteristics and political organization of European beer brewers prior to the 1990s. The second section explores the impact of increasing competitive pressures on the brewers during the 1990s and early 2000s, which led to the increased concentration of the industry and the emergence of five multinational firms - InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, Carlsberg, and Scottish & Newcastle. The third section analyzes the activities of Eurocare, WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, the member states, and the European Commission to reduce alcohol-related harm. The fourth section examines the political response of the brewers to those activities, focusing in particular on the political reorganization of their European trade association and its lobbying activities in Brussels. In the fifth section, I discuss the impact of the brewers’ political reorganization and lobbying on the debate over alcohol control policy in the EU. Finally, I draw some conclusions about the changes in the brewers’ association and the EU’s policy-making.
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