The Nanny State and Regulatory Discrepancies Across Europe
Harrison Griffiths writes for CapX
IEA research quoted in The Telegraph
Christopher Snowdon writes in The Critic
“For example, in much of continental Europe it is considered no more than common sense that people who run bars and restaurants should be able to open them when they have paying customers and close them when they don’t. Many of these countries have a history of being ruled by governments that have been, to put it politely, a bit bossy, and yet the idea that the state should dictate when bar-owners call last orders would strike the people who live there as absurd.
“In most of Scandinavia, it is considered perfectly normal for the state to own all the off licences. In Norway and Sweden, it is normal to use snus, a smokeless tobacco product that hasn’t taken off in the rest of Europe because the EU banned it. Fourteen of the 27 EU member states have no such thing as wine duty. Wine is so integral to the Mediterranean lifestyle that when the Greek government tried to tax it, it was overruled by the high court for being unconstitutional. In Ireland and the UK, meanwhile, most people have no inkling that they give the government three or four pounds every time they buy a bottle of wine.
“Not only does regulation vary wildly between countries, but the regulation is often unpredictable. Countries do not always conform to type. For example, the UK is uptight about alcohol in many respects and yet it has never had the kind of advertising restrictions that are common in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. A few countries ban it completely and even the French regulate it very heavily. Spain seems quite laid back about booze, with low taxes and liberal licensing laws, and yet it has only recently legalised spirits advertising on television, albeit in a very limited way.”
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