The 2006 Sugar Reform: Actors’ Influence on the Policy Formulation Process

Carina Christiansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis analyses the 2006 reform of the EU sugar policy. It was in many ways a remarkable reform which impacted many people and businesses. The research question for this thesis is: How did actors influence the 2006 reform of the Common Market Organisation for Sugar? And which actors benefited from the Sugar Reform? It is an important research endeavor because it provides an understanding of the policy-making behind the Sugar Reform in terms of how various actors influenced it. When policy-processes are elucidated, democratic awareness is increased. Three sets of theories are applied to the research. First, the actors are identified by conducting commodity chain analysis and assessing the credibility of the actors. Second, theories on accessing and influencing EU policy-making are applied. Third, an impact assessment of the Sugar Reform is conducted primarily by applying empirical data. Thereby, the actors who benefited and those who lost from the Sugar Reform are identified. A deductive approach is taken to the research, as data is applied in order to test whether the theories can explain the process and the outcome of the Sugar Reform. Empirical data in the form of interviews with Mariann Fischer Boel, former Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Jørn Dalby, president of The International Confederation of European Beet Growers, are crucial to the analysis. The sugar industry is applied as a case study, so the results of the research are primarily valid for this industry and this particular policy-making process. The thesis argues that various identified actors tried to influence the Sugar Reform; however, the actual influence on the Sugar Reform was limited to a few actors. The sugar industry has suffered as a consequence of the Sugar Reform, as many factories have been closed; however, the sugar growers and factories which remain in business have gained competitiveness. The most significant finding in this research is that the industrial sugar users and the retailers have benefited from the Sugar Reform, as they are now able to buy sugar at a lower price. Consumers have not benefited from this price reduction. Actors who wish to influence EU policy-making can learn from the analysis in this research. It is found that building coalitions and applying pro-active lobby strategies increased an actor’s capability to influence the Sugar Reform. Furthermore, it is recommended to direct efforts to influence policy-making towards the national ministers and the EU Parliament, as they both have direct influence on EU policy-making. Themes for future research on the Sugar Reform and influencing EU policy-making endure. These are elaborated on towards the end of the thesis.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages102