More than just BMW is using it and not just in Europe. VW and Fiat introduced it in Europe in the '80s. Audi, Alfa Romero, and CitroŽn both use the technology. BMW started using it in 2008. It's being used in Japan by Toyota, Mazda, and Honda. I'm pretty sure that my friend's 2011 E90 M3 has it.
It's all about fuel efficiency and emissions. Manufacturers must meet ever increasing CAFE requirements and are pulling out all the stops to do whatever they can to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency.
On the F30 BMW's implementation includes a button under the start button that allows the driver to turn if off if they don't want to use it but it will be on by default.
The biggest problem with this technology is not the starter but the battery being discharged by having to restart the engine far more frequently.