The Nanny State Index 2018: European Parliament Edition

Section: WTA Blog
28 June 2018


EPICENTER published a special European Parliament edition of the Nanny State Index that tracks paternalistic lifestyle regulations that the European Parliament proposed in its current and previous legislative terms. In partnership with VoteWatch Europe, EPICENTER assessed legislation in four different categories: alcohol, e-cigarettes, food/soft drinks and tobacco. It also 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 favor more lifestyle regulation and which wish to achieve public health goals in other ways.

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 skepticism 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.