PM expects Senate to reject bill requiring quotas for Czech food products

Andrej Babiš expects a bill requiring larger supermarkets to sell a mandatory minimum amount of Czech products will be rejected by the upper house

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 23.01.2021 11:45 (updated on 23.01.2021)

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš expects the Senate to reject a bill requiring bigger grocery stores to sell a mandatory minimum share of Czech-made food products, he told journalists Friday.

The Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed the bill on Wednesday. It would next need to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President before coming into law.

"I of course don’t agree with [the bill], it is not realistic and it is not in accordance with European law," Babiš said about the proposed quotas.

He said he believes this requirement will not be pushed through parliament. Babiš considers the bill a gesture of support for Czech farmers, but that parliament should not pass it.

"We cannot order by law what people should buy and should not buy," he pointed out.

European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová, who represents the Czech Republic 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.

Jourová noted that the EC comments on bills in EU member states only when they have been passed.

"I strongly hope that the bill finally will not make it through the legislative process, because it is harmful not only because it goes against the European principle of free movement of goods," she said.

Jourová said there were similar efforts at market regulation in Romania in the past, but they were given up after negotiations.

The new requirement would apply, for example, to eggs, honey, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, beef, pork, lamb, rapeseed and sunflower oil, milk, cheese and cottage cheese.

The mandatory minimum quota for Czech goods among these products would be 55 percent next year and gradually grow to 73 percent in 2028. It would not apply to smaller shops and specialty stores.

The Czech Agrarian Chamber supports the quotas. It says it will not reduce the assortment of products sold and will not increase prices for end consumers.

The Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Confederation of Industry warned against the introduction of the quota. It was also criticized by the Food Chamber and the Association of Winemakers.

Eight other EU countries have warned the Czech Republic against the introduction of the quota.