Biased or not? Organized interests and the case of EU food information labeling

Paulette Kurzer, Alice Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We address the literature on EU lobbying and the issue of biases in interest representation by examining the fate of the food labeling regulation. NGOs initially succeeded in framing the issue and dominated the process of drafting the Commission's proposal. However, NGOs lost the fight in the Parliament, where industry's preferences largely prevailed. Our explanation centers on opportunity structures and highlights three dimensions that interfered with a successful mobilization of votes in the EP: strength of the frame;, size of the lobbying coalition; and the identity of the rapporteur. Once the proposal was in the EP, NGOs found it difficult to rally the public and lost control of framing. The food industry was keen to minimize labeling requirements, constituted the dominant lobby, and enjoyed enormous resources and political connections. Finally, the rapporteur was ideologically opposed to the proposed labeling rules and greatly watered down their requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-740
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • EU food labeling
  • European parliament
  • lobbying
  • non-governmental organizations
  • obesity
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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