Czechia: parliament wants to introduce minimum quota Czech products

The lower house of the Czech parliament approved last week a bill imposing mandatory minimum quotas for national products on large supermarkets. The bill, which still needs to be passed by the Senate, would require food stores of more than 400 square meters to sell a mandatory minimum share of food products made in the Czech Republic, starting in 2022. The quota is to be 55% next year, with the aim to gradually grow this to 73% in 2028.

fidge with beers and other drinks
Beeld: ©A.Murawska

The new duty is to apply, for instance, to eggs, honey, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, beef, pork, lamb, rapeseed and sunflower oil, milk, cheese and cottage cheese. The aim is to gain self-sufficiency in foodstuff production and to support local farmers. The bill is part of a broader campaign to promote Czech products and to try to prevent supermarkets from selling mainly cheap(er), imported products from other countries in the EU.

Viewpoint European Commission and EU Member States

European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova, which represents Czechia in the EC, said the quota on Czech-made food makes no sense. She told Czech Television that the quota would harm Czech consumers, limit the offer on the market and increase prices. Jourova noted that the EC comments on bills in the EU member states only when they have been passed.

A spokesperson for the Commission told during a press briefing last week that the situation was being “monitored very closely” and said that initiatives by member states to support local products “cannot be done in a discriminatory way.” The Commission will analyse the Czech legislation once adopted. If adopted, such measures could create “privileged marketing conditions for Czech food products”, thus discriminating against other EU food producers and going against the free movement of goods principle.

In December 2020, eight Embassies from the EU (Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Poland and Spain) sent a letter to Jaroslav Faltýnek, chair of the Czech parliament’s Agricultural Committee, describing concerns that the legislation would “eventually create favored trade conditions and discriminate similar imported products,” as well as “restrict the freedom of retailers to decide on their product range.” 

Critics from the Czech opposition Critics say that the bill will only help large food conglomerates, including Agrofert holding, the (former) company of Czech Prime Minister Babiš. 

Sources: Politico, Euractiv and CTK