Hungary slams Austrian supermarket giant Spar, says it should put its own business in order instead of complaining

By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

One week after Austrian supermarket chain Spar turned to the EU complaining about what it said was an unfair taxation scheme, Hungarian Minister of the Economy Márton Nagy countered that the chain should review its own cost structure instead of blaming its host state.

In a press release signed by Nagy, the ministry said that “contrary to untrue and malicious allegations, the government has introduced extra profit taxes in sectors where they are generated, including retail, energy and banking, to protect families and reduce overheads.”

“In these sectors, the energy crisis and the accompanying surge in inflation have created extra income, which the companies concerned did not earn.”

These extra profits have been diverted by the government, and the revenues generated are used to finance domestic utility bills, the ministry said.

As Remix News reported earlier, Austrian supermarket chain Spar has accused the Hungarian government of breaking EU law to cut food prices and called on Brussels to mitigate the devastating impact of the government’s measures.

However, the Hungarian government is firing back, writing in its statement: “It is the Hungarian government’s principled position that the price of war, harmful sanctions and the energy crisis should not be paid by Hungarian families.”

At the same time, the ministry pointed out that the retail sales tax has been declared lawful by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

According to the Hungarian Ministry of the Economy, the real reason behind the attacks on the government is not the government measures but the company’s loss-making financial situation. Spar Hungary’s operations are inefficient because “it has a higher cost structure than its competitors on the market, and it is also underperforming in terms of market and price competition.”

The supermarket chain claimed that the Hungarian government’s 2022 special tax is discriminatory and breaches a number of EU laws, including on the free movement of goods. In its complaint to the EU, Spar wrote that the special tax and other measures aimed at reducing food prices are clearly incompatible with EU law because they “violate the principle of free movement of goods, freedom of establishment and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

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