Same EU directive – completely different national debates

One of the cases I am currently studying for my PhD is the new EU tobacco directive and more specifically how the regulaton of e-cigarettes got in there. Although I have not spent too much in the EU bubble over the last years, I saw some attention to the issue in German and international media during the discussions. Much of the original excitement was about the lobbying efforts of Philip Morris & co. Not really surprising.
Now with some research interviews in Brussels I realised that there must have been two really different debates about the content of the tobacco directive. From reading mostly German media on the issue so far I thought the directive was about packaging (how much to cover with anti-smoking warnings etc) or banning flavours (e.g. menthol) etc., i.e. makíng access and appeal of traditional cigarettes more cumbersome (see e.g. Spiegel). But after going into the issue of e-cigarettes I realised that the UK debate seems to have been almost exclusively about the regulation of e-cigarettes. Not surprisingly two British MEPs, Chris Davies (prominent LibDem) and Martin Callahan (Tory leader in the EP) became prominent supporters of a liberal approach of their use. Correspondingly, UK media focused in their reporting mostly on e-cigs (see Guardian A and B or the BBC maybe a little more balanced on all content of the directive).

I have studied EU legislation for a few years and I cannot remember another prominent directive which had such a different perception in different countries that are otherwise broadly similarly ‘developed’. – Such cases would make for brilliant strategic exploitation by smart negotiators.

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