July 2, 2018 Print

The European Policy Information Center (EPICENTER) recently released a special edition of their popular Nanny State Index. The Nanny State Index 2018: European Parliament Edition tracks paternalistic regulations that the European Parliament introduced in its current and previous legislative sessions.

Since the initiative was launched in March 2016, the Nanny State Index has tracked state interventions in the consumption of alcohol, e-cigarettes, food and soda, and tobacco at the country level in the EU. This special European Parliament issue specifically tracks regulations introduced in Brussels and shows which parties have voted in favor of such paternalistic policies.

“Our previous editions of the Nanny State Index have shown that the main chunk of lifestyle regulations come from national parliaments and the EU,” said Adam Bartha, director of EPICENTER. “However, there are still areas of paternalistic regulations where the EU gets involved. Our ranking of political parties, groups, and nationalities in the European Parliament aims to highlight this fact and make European legislators concentrate on more important challenges faced by the continent.”

To provide a more comprehensive picture of the political climate towards greater lifestyle regulation, EPICENTER partnered with VoteWatch Europe to track and analyze legislation regulating alcohol, e-cigarettes, food, soda, and tobacco. Additionally, they compared all involved political parties and member states based on their voting history.

The European Parliament Edition shows the European Conservatives and Reformists to be the most laissez-faire when it comes to lifestyle regulation, while the Green party had the most pro-regulatory attitude. In most cases, members of the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Poland voted against such paternalistic regulations while the domestic governments in these countries have supported a more heavy-handed paternalistic approach in the past. Interestingly, this suggests a disconnect with national parliaments, and a correlation between Euroscepticism and a favorable attitude towards lighter-touch regulations.

Such paternalistic policies are often propped up by claims of public health, but questions remain whether these regulations lead to healthier lifestyles and better outcomes for Europeans. Legislators will be able to use the Nanny State Index to compare the outcomes in various member states with differing regulatory approaches to address this question. Hopefully, this index will help steer the conversation in Brussels towards less top-down regulation, handing control back to member states and their citizens.   

On July 2, EPICENTER announced that Athens-based KEFiM has joined the existing eight think tanks in its network from across the EU, including the Center for Political Studies (Denmark), Civil Development Forum (Poland), Civismo (Spain), the Institut Economique Molinari (France), the Institute of Economic Affairs (UK), Istituto Bruno Leoni (Italy), the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania), and Timbro (Sweden).

"Joining EPICENTER is a proud moment for our organisation," said Alexander Skouras, president of KEFiM. "We are looking forward to bringing our experiences from the Greek crisis to Brussels and joining our fellow members in the important task of enriching EU policy debates and defending the vision of a free and prosperous Europe."

Read more about the Nanny State Index 2018