Czech grocery stores are going to be featuring more and more local Czech food in the future due to new quotas in what will be a win for the “buy local” movement, the environment and Czech farmers, but already the European Union and other lobby groups are pushing back against the new law.
On Wednesday, the Czech Chamber of Deputies approved the proposal to introduce a mandatory share of certain basic foods of Czech origin in stores covering an area of over 400 square meters, reports Czech news portal Aktuaine. From 2022, this mandatory share should be at least 55 percent.
According to the Hospodářské noviny daily, eight EU states have already objected to the planned quotas, pointing out the discriminatory behavior towards foreign products, which is inadmissible on the EU market.
According to the proposal of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) MP Radim Fiala, the ratio will grow by three percentage points per year from 2022 to 2028, when it would reach at least 73 percent. Members of the SPD, ANO, Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), the Communist Party (KSČM), and Václav Klaus Jr. voted in favor of the quotas. The Senate will now discuss the proposal.
On Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Toman called on deputies to be a little patriotic when it comes to Czech food. As an example, he said that when they have coffee in the Chamber of Deputies, they add German milk to it, which, according to him, proves that the law is needed.
The introduction of quotas would concern more than 100 of the 15,000 types of food produced in the Czech Republic. These include, for example, the main types of meat or vegetables.
Quotas should not apply to retail shops with an area of up to 400 square meters or specialized shops.
The Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism (SOCR CR), the Czech Chamber of Commerce, and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic have repeatedly opposed the quotas. According to them, these quotas will harm Czech customers, jeopardize exports, and violate the rules of the EU’s single internal market, as the European Commission and the Committee on European Affairs at the Chamber of Deputies have repeatedly pointed out.
According to the Hospodářské noviny daily, eight EU countries have already expressed their objections about the quotas in a letter to Jaroslav Faltýnek, the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture at the Chamber of Deputies. According to the letter signed by representatives of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Poland, and Spain, if the law passes, Czechia would commit clear discrimination against foreign products, which is unacceptable in the Union’s single market.
According to Trinity Bank economist Lukáš Kovanda, if the European Union designates the quotas as discriminatory against foreign products, it could impose economic or trade sanctions on Czechia.
The law increasing the mandatory share of domestic food in shops was also approved in June 2016 by the Romanian Parliament. However, Romania eventually abolished the quotas due to the warning from the EU Court of Justice.
Title image: A worker removes expired food in a local supermarket in Brussels on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. The European Court of Auditors has chided the European Union’s executive branch in a report, “Combating Food Waste,” that decries the bloc’s lack of effort in reducing the food waste, estimating the EU wastes 88 million tons of food per year. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)