Patently confused

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7090.1296 (Published 03 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1296

Inconsistent policies undermine Europe's health, wealth, and intellectual property

  1. David Taylor, Professora
  1. a GJW Health Affairs, London SW9 0JJ

    The key goals of the European Union relate to preserving peace and increasing prosperity. Free trade—demanding the unhindered movement of goods and services across member states' boundaries—should, many theorists believe, contribute to these ends. But the transition away from nationally focused systems is proving slow and painful. This is not just for workers in enterprises who in the past were protected by local regulations. Broad public and business interests are also being harmed by inconsistencies between tax and allied regimes at the national level and the overall European drive for the free movement of goods. As a result, both public health and pharmaceutical research programmes are at risk of disruption.

    An example of the problems arising from the uneasy balance between national and European Union policies is provided by licit and illicit trade in alcohol and tobacco. The movement across the English channel of large quantities of low taxed beer and cigarettes, ostensibly for personal consumption but …

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