Report: Uncorking Big Alcohol in the EU [ENGLISH]

Who is the alcohol industry on the EU level? How much do they spend on lobbying and what is their goals and tactics?

This report from IOGT-NTO aims to shine a light on the alcohol industry that fills the corridors in Brussels, an industry that has for decades been opposing progress on public health policy in the European Union.

Report: Uncorking Big Alcohol in the EU


With the importance of the European markets for the sales of alcoholic products, the European Union has become a central arena for lobby efforts from the alcohol industry. Through different forms of lobby groups, the industry is actively trying to affect the outcome of alcohol policies in the Union. This includes EU policies as well as the alcohol laws and regulations of individual Member States. Big alcohol is not looking out for any other interest than their own profit margins and any public health-oriented alcohol policy is actively opposed by the industry.

Through heavily funded lobby-efforts on the EU level, alcohol industry actors are actively working to undermine evidence-based public health policies. Their presence on the EU arena is significantly larger than their NGO counterparts, and the industry holds a much larger number of meetings with high-level EU officials. This imbalance can be exemplified with the following numbers:

  • The alcohol industry had 270 meetings with the European Commission over the last six years, whereas public health NGOs had only 15.
  • The industry, by their own estimations, allocate over 9 million euros each year to lobby in the EU.
  • The alcohol industry has a significantly large number of full-time lobbyists in Brussels (95 in total) pursing their targets. This can be compared to 14,5 from public health NGOs.

The industry works to take up as much space as possible in the alcohol policy debate, and to set the agenda for what is discussed and how it is discussed. In their discourse against the public health concerns on alcohol they employ soft tactics, such as spurring doubt about existing public health research, stating that specific efforts to reduce alcohol harm are disproportionate, or attempting to distract the debate away from the harmful effects alcohol causes. Despite an obvious conflict of interest due to their profit motives, the industry is still being consulted on public health matters. The alcohol industry has a real influence over alcohol policy in the EU, which has long been, and remains, a massive obstacle for an effective European alcohol policy