Slovakia needs to remove restrictions on food retailers

The European Commission decided on Thursday to send a letter of formal notice to Slovakia requesting it to remove restrictions in the food retail sector. The Commission considers that the Slovak measures create more advantageous marketing conditions for domestic products and restrict retailers' freedom to decide on their assortment and the layout of their sale surfaces.

Beeld: NL embassy PL

press release European Commission

The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Slovakia, requesting it to remove restrictions in the food retail sector. Under the current legislation, at least one half of products promoted in store leaflets have to be of Slovak origin.

Such measures are against EU rules on free movement of goods and freedom of establishment, and result in barriers prohibited, according to the press release by the European Commission. Slovakia now has three months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.


Retail chains welcomes the EC attitude

The EC was addressed by the Slovak Modern Trade Alliance (SAMO), which unites foreign retail chains like Lidl, Kaufland, Tesco, Billa and Metro, in early July 2019. It claimed that the legislation did not respect the free movement of goods principle. It is the retailer that makes decisions on their business strategy, which is why they see the state’s order to have at least one half of the promoted products in leaflets to be of Slovak origin as a problem.

SAMO and the representatives of the Slovak Association for Branded Products (SZZV) have welcomed the EC attitude, saying that the letter of formal notice names specific objections to the law.

“The EC action proves that unlawful regulations were adopted during the previous election term that, unfortunately, still remain valid,” said Martin Krajčovič, chair of SAMO. “This state of affairs needs to be changed as soon as possible.”

This is why they welcomed the measures adopted by the incumbent government that correct some previous legal regulations, and hope that they will continue rectifying the situation.

While retailers have welcomed the Commission's step, food suppliers are worried. They have claimed the disputed law protects them from retailers' unfair practices.


Slovak food products on shelves 40%

The supply of Slovak food on store shelves has not exceeded 40 percent, the latest survey carried out by the Go4insight agency for the Food Chamber of Slovakia shows. Only 39.9 percent of food products in stores came from Slovakia, which is an increase by 1.3 percentage point compared to 2019. The highest share of Slovak products has been recorded in the categories of milk, mineral water, wine and beer. Home-made confectionery, chocolate and canned goods are the least represented Slovak products. COOP Jednota and CBA sell the highest share of Slovak products. The lowest share of Slovak food products has long been observed in Lidl, now at 26 percent.