Nanny State Index 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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