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January 21, 2021

EU scrutinising Czech plans to prioritise domestic food producers

The European Union has responded after the Czech Republic announced plans to adopt legislation requiring shops there to sell mainly domestically-made food.

By Leonie Barrie

The European Union is monitoring Czech Republic plans to adopt legislation requiring shops there to sell mainly domestically-made food.

The Czech Republic is an EU member state and the proposed law might raise questions over whether it is contrary to EU single market rules.

In a statement sent to just-food, a spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said: “The free movement of goods and services in the internal market is our strongest asset in ensuring supplies across the EU, and it is also our best tool to ensure recovery for all.

“It is of utmost importance that national measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values as set out in the treaties. Any restrictive measures must be limited to what is necessary and be strictly proportionate.

“The free movement of agricultural products throughout the internal market is essential to ensure food security throughout the Union. Local restrictions of whatever type are counter-productive.”

Czech lawmakers approved the legislation on Wednesday (20 January). It stipulates that shops larger than 400 square metres must, as of next year, offer at least 55% of items that can be locally produced. The proportion would rise gradually to 73% in 2028.

The European Commission said it would analyse the Czech legislation once fully adopted.

“On this specific case, we are aware of the draft amendment to the Czech Food Act including the food quotas in stores. We are monitoring the situation closely,” it said in its statement.

“The Commission will analyse the Czech legislation once adopted. We cannot speculate at this stage.”

News agency Reuters suggested the Czech quotas are a part of a bill aimed at preventing double standards in food. Some former communist eastern members of the EU have complained that inferior food products are sold in poorer eastern markets by western European food companies. A European Parliament committee voted to take action on this issue in early 2019.

just-food has asked the Czech government to comment on its planned legislation.

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