2023 ; Emil Juslin, Uppsala University; Department of Government; Master’s thesis

Throughout its history, the EU has been centred around economic integration. Today, however, the EU’s
political ambitions extend to more areas, such as environment and health. How does the legacy of economic integration affect the EU’s ability to pursue policy in these areas, especially when it may offset commercial objectives?
One such area is alcohol policy. While alcohol policy often involves a trade-off between health and
commercial objectives, EU alcohol policy has historically prioritised the latter. This appeared to change with the announcement of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan in 2021. This thesis, using the Advocacy Coalition
Framework, studies EU alcohol policy to determine whether or not a policy shift towards a more ambitious public health policy occurred as a result of the plan. 

The results show that policy change did not happen in the wake of the cancer plan. Instead, policy was
delayed or changed to not interfere with commercial goals. The findings also show that two coalitions fought for influence over the policy process. One, centred around public health actors, and one centred around alcohol industry actors. The study shows that the industry coalition was more influential at key stages that affected the outcome of the policy deliberations.
The conclusions show that the political culture and commercial structures set up to accommodate single
market integration also act as defenders of commercial priorities. Notably, corresponding structures for
public health were either limited or non-existent. This suggests that a bias exists that hinder significant
political progress on health policy.

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