Czechia passed a string of laws this week: Here's what you need to know

This week marked the passing of several laws, including single-use plastic ban, registration of beneficial owners, film incentive limitations, and more.

Kathrin Yaromich

Written by Kathrin Yaromich Published on 18.08.2022 13:33:00 (updated on 18.08.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

President Miloš Zeman signed several amendments into law this week, which cover a wide array of areas — from the environment and financial transparency to pets and film incentives.

Ban on single-use plastics

One of the key legislations passed by the Senate and signed by the president is the long-awaited ban on single-use plastic. The Czech Republic will ban the production and sale of disposable plastic products in accordance with European Union regulations within two months.

The ban mainly affects single-use plastic products, including drink stirrers, cotton buds, sticks for holding balloons, drink cups, and food boxes made of expanded polystyrene.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, the passed law should reduce the annual consumption of these plastic products by approximately 1.77 billion pieces. 

The law also introduces requirements for some plastic products. In the case of certain products, such as sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, and tobacco products with filters, manufacturers must now inform the users how to properly dispose of them. 

Manufacturers of some products must also notify users of the availability of reusable alternatives. They will also have to label plastic products with a uniform label. This will apply to cigarettes with filters, wet wipes, sanitary napkins, and cups.

The law also strengthens the so-called extended liability of producers of selected plastic waste. Cigarette manufacturers are supposed to share in the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts and other plastic waste in municipalities.

Registration of beneficial owners

The EU has long exerted pressure on the Czech Republic to pass the law on the registration of beneficial owners, but it was met with strong opposition.

In legal speak, beneficial owners are defined as any individual who ultimately owns or controls a legal entity. Allowing such beneficiaries to remain anonymous has become an increasing concern worldwide as anonymity enables the concealment of considerable questionable financial activity, and many governments are demanding greater transparency about beneficial ownership.

Previously, the EU has conditioned a CZK 179 billion subsidy on the rapid approval of the law on the registration of beneficial owners. Several members of the government accused the ANO party of obstruction due to Andrej Babiš' conflict of interest mainly under the Agrofert group of companies that receive EU funding.

In line with the new amendment, business corporations will now have to evaluate who is their real owner according to the new legal definition after the amendment takes effect. The data of the vast majority of entrepreneurs will be entered into the records from other registers automatically, which should also apply to organizations that until now had an exception from the records of real owners.

The amendment also expands the possibilities of remote access to the records of real owners. The change is primarily aimed at delivery providers who obtain data without cooperation with applicants. Therefore, the applicants will not have to submit extracts from the register to the providers.

Dog registry

In the future, dogs will be reported in the central register operated by the Veterinary Doctors Chamber. Veterinarians will record the identification data of the breeder and their animals upon chipping or vaccination. 

Veterinarians, public authorities, and partly breeders will have access to the records. The price for the registration in a non-public register will be charged by private veterinarians. ​​

The amendment also deals with the details of mandatory chipping of dogs and introduces rules for the international transport of animals, as required by the EU. Their violation could be punished with a fine of up to two million.

The Veterinary Chamber is already keeping records of dog passports. The state assumes that most dogs will be registered in the central registry within a year of the amendment taking effect, but the transition period is three years.

Since last year it has been legally obligatory to have a dog chipped. Private veterinarians have criticized the lack of a single register of dogs. So far, there are only partial databases, and people are not obliged to register their chipped animals, which makes it difficult for police officers to find the owner of a stray dog.

Film incentives limitation

Applicants for a film incentive will be able to receive a maximum of CZK 150 million per project per year. The restriction is brought about by an amendment regulating YouTube-type video sharing platforms in accordance with EU regulations. The regulation is designed to better protect children from inappropriate content and the public from expressions of violence and hatred.

In the Czech Republic, the basic film incentive is one-fifth of eligible costs. For this year, CZK 800 million are set aside for them again, but the producers' demands are higher. 

The limitation of the amount was pushed through an amendment by Minister of Culture Martin Baxa, who previously said that the incentive system was not functional due to the high demand.

Extending sanctions imposition

Among the laws signed by the president is also an amendment bill extending the possible imposition of sanctions. The Czech Customs Authority will be empowered to seize property under international sanctions along with vehicles transferring such property. A breach of international sanctions would constitute a crime.

The law is also expected to improve Czechia's enforcement of the sanctions the EU has imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

At the same time, the law interferes with the laws on asylum and foreigners' stay in the Czech Republic, as it enables the authorities to ban stay in the Czech Republic to persons under sanctions. It will also be possible to ban a company under sanctions from public procurement.

As for the seized property, the law states that this property can be sold if it is in the public interest.

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