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This paper analyses the belief- and interest-driven coalitional politics of the new European Union Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR) by applying the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Baptist & Bootlegger Theory. Our results first show how two PRO-Regulation Coalitions advocated for new European Union (EU) trade rules: key members of a Sustainable Development Coalition and an Environmental Coalition include key sustainability- and environmentally-oriented EU institutions, import-dependent EU Member States, non-governmental organisations, civil society groups, and some food and forest certifiers. Second, a PRO-EUDR Business Coalition – mainly composed of multinational business actors such as consumer goods companies and retailers, import-dependent European companies, some EU domestic producers from the agricultural sector, and their respective associations – joined the PRO-Coalitions in a strategic cross-coalitional PRO-Regulation Alliance to pursue business-oriented pro-regulatory interests. Third, the building of this Alliance facilitated political momentum for the EUDR’s agenda-setting, drafting and adoption despite opposition from a weaker CONTRA-Regulation Coalition of status-quo-oriented policy advocates among some EU institutions, forest-rich EU Member States, agricultural certifiers, tropical producer country governmental authorities, as well as European and non-EU companies and their associations from the forest, agricultural and food sectors. Fourth, the EUDR’s final legislative text is a compromise solution, institutionalising different core beliefs and interests of pro- and contra-regulatory state and non-state actors. Pro-change actors were more powerful in institutionalising their beliefs and interests.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2023.103102