Nanny State Index 2018


This special European Parliament edition of the Nanny State Index tracks paternalistic lifestyle regulations that the European Parliament proposed in its current and previous legislative terms. In partnership with VoteWatch Europe, we assessed legislation in four different categories: alcohol, e-cigarettes, food/soft drinks and tobacco. We compared all political groups, nationalities and domestic political parties and their regulatory attitudes towards consumer choice. The Index gives a full picture of which political parties favour more lifestyle regulation and which wish to achieve public health goals in other ways.

Briefing

Nanny State Index Summary

19 June 2018

In a risk-obsessed society, nation-states within the EU and elsewhere face the dilemma of paternalist intervention. There is an ever-increasing expectation among European citizens that party and state leaders will provide necessary protections for their constituents. Although this concept of paternalism is worthy of a theoretical analysis, therein lays a greater scepticism of the governments’ ability to implement this properly and/or without further restraint and regulation on market activity.

Recent data from the Nanny State Index suggests evidence of tighter state regulations over a period of two years that, as a result, have affected the buying and selling of lifestyle products within the European Union. Free market ideals seem to be dwarfed by growing trends of market regulation within the bloc.

The Nanny State Index concludes that there is no positive correlation between heavy market regulation and the overall wellbeing of the European constituent. In this case, causation does not imply correlation. A smart regulation is suggested, reflecting the need for more evidence-based approaches to market procedures.

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Publication

Nanny State Index 2018 - European Parliament edition

19 June 2018

The Nanny State Index tracks paternalistic lifestyle regulations that the European Parliament proposed in its current and previous legislative terms. Legislation was assessed in four different categories: alcohol, e-cigarettes, food/soft drinks and tobacco. Comparisons were made between all political groups, nationalities and domestic political parties and their regulatory attitudes towards consumer choice. The Index gives a full picture of which political parties favour more lifestyle regulation and which wish to achieve public health goals in other ways.

Political group results were uncontroversial. The European Conservatives and Reformists are the most laissez-faire when it comes to lifestyle regulation and the Greens have the most pro-regulatory attitude.

When categorising MEPs based on nationality, results were more surprising. MEPs from the United Kingdom, Hungary and Poland tend to vote in most cases against more regulation in lifestyle issues, whereas the governments of these countries have a very heavy-handed, paternalistic approach. This suggest a disconnect with national parliaments, and a correlation between Euroscepticism and favouring lighter touch regulation.

German parties feature both at the top and bottom of the ranking in the European Parliament. The Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) from the ALDE Group tops the list as the most anti-paternalistic party, while Die Linke (GUE/NGL member) ranks as the most pro-regulation party, scoring the lowest possible score on all four categories of smoking, drinking, vaping and eating.

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