German Ambassador knocks proposed Czech food quotas

"Budvar is also popular in Germany," writes Christoph Israng. "It is good that there are no food quotas and consumers can make their own decisions."

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 31.01.2021 13:00:00 (updated on 10.02.2021) Reading time: 1 minute

A controversial new bill that would require a minimum percentage of locally-sourced products be sold in Czech shops is currently making its way through the government, and it's drawn some sharp criticism from officials at home and abroad.

The bill, which has been approved by the Czech Chamber of Deputies, would require a mandatory minimum quota of 55% Czech products be sold in supermarkets next year, rising to 73% by 2028. It would only apply to certain types of products, including milk, cheese, beef, pork, and some vegetables. Smaller shops and specialty stores would be exempt from the requirement.

The bill next needs to be approved by the Czech Republic's Senate and signed by President Miloš Zeman before entering law. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said last week that he expects the Senate to reject the bill.

Still, that hasn't stopped the bill from drawing the ire of other EU states, who may be affected if it comes into law. German Ambassador to the Czech Republic Christophe Israng is the latest to offer his thoughts on the matter.

"Thank you very much, Minister Toman, for the delicious Czech gift," Israng tweeted upon receiving a box of Czech beer Budvar from Czech Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Toman.

"Budvar is also very popular in Germany. It is good that there are no food quotas and consumers can make their own decisions."

Budvar is the leading imported beer brand in Germany, with sales in the range of 375,000 hectoliters annually. It has recently made headlines for seeing double-digit growth numbers in Germany during the coronavirus crisis, while local brewers are posting losses.

Toman is a vocal supporter of the new bill introducing food quotas, though he has admitted that it still needs to be tweaked before becoming law.

If and when that happens, official complaints are likely to be raised with the European Commission. Toman recently told Právo that he is prepared to defend the bill introducing Czech food quotas in Brussels.

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