Consumers on the March, 1960s to 1990s


Koen van Zon awarded Simone Veil Fellowship

Koen van Zon has been awarded the Simone Veil Fellowship by the Project House Europe, based at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich. Early 2022, he will reside at the Project House Europe as part of his project Exploring Brussels’ corridors. Towards a history of corporate lobbying in the European Community, 1958-1992.

The fellowship is part of the Consumers on the March project, in that it ventures to explore the influence that corporations have had in shaping EC legislation in, among other areas, consumer and environmental legislation.

Koen will study the historical role of corporate lobbies in EU decision making processes. The problem with corporate lobbying in the EU was, then as now, that business actors enjoyed access to decision making processes at moments and venues that were outside the purview of other stakeholders. This privileged the financial and economic influence of private interests over public interests, made policy making processes opaque and difficult to control, and produced outcomes that reproduced or even reinforced social and economic inequalities. Corporate lobbying has therefore long been argued to detract from the EU’s democratic legitimacy. Just as it was a difficult phenomenon to address then, studying the history of corporate lobbying is challenging, because there are rarely paper traces to corroborate informal encounters between business actors and EC officials. The premise of this project is that this presents historians not with an unsurmountable methodological challenge, but an obligation to study the dynamic between EC institutions and private interests. It raises the question how corporate lobbies and European institutions have changed in relation to each other over time.