In both 2016 and 2017, the Czech Republic was crowned the most liberal nation in Europe by the Nanny State Index, a measurement of regulations surrounding alcohol, e-cigarettes, tobacco, and food & soft drinks that rates “the best and worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape.”
The index aims to uncover which nations grant its citizens the most freedom over what they put into their bodies (legally, at least), and measures the four main categories by criteria that includes taxes, product bans, regulations on advertising, and other measurements.
In the previous two polls, the Czech Republic was granted the lowest score in the index, indicating that it was the most free from “Nanny State” control. The Index was not distributed in 2018.
This year, however, Germany has displaced the Czech Republic as the EU’s most free nation according to the 2019 Nanny State Index.
According to the authors of the Nanny State Index, the country-wide smoking ban that came into effect at the end of 2017 is responsible for the Czech Republic losing its crown of most free nation.
“The Czech Republic’s reputation as a haven of liberty took a knock in May 2017 when an extensive smoking ban came into effect,” the Index states.
“Despite an attempt by dozens of politicians to partially relax it in February 2018, it remains in place. Fines of 5,000 CZK can be imposed on individuals who break the law and the owners of venues can be fined up to 50,000 CZK.”
But while the Czech Republic dropped the top position, it still ranks among the most free nations in the individual Nanny State categories.
According to the 2019 Index, the Czech Republic still features the most lax alcohol regulations among the 27 EU states, the most lax food & drink regulations (tied with seven other countries), and the fifth most lax e-cigarette regulations (tied with Malta).
Even with the introduction of the 2017 smoking ban, the Czech Republic still boasts the ninth most lenient cigarette regulations in Europe, a measurement that includes the second-lowest taxes on cigarettes in the EU.
“The introduction of the smoking ban is the main reason why the Czech Republic loses its crown to Germany as the most liberal EU country in the 2019 Nanny State Index. Otherwise, however, it remains a largely free country when it comes to lifestyle.”
After Germany and the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and Luxembourg round out the top five most liberal nations in the EU, with Spain and Italy close behind.
What are the least free countries in Europe? Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, UK, and Hungary have the most authoritarian restrictions.
You can download the full 2019 Nanny State Index at this link.