Slovakia needs to remove restrictions in the food retail sector

The EC has criticised the request to promote mostly Slovak-origin products in leaflets.

(Source: The Slovak Spectator)

It is possible that the pages in leaflets promoting Slovak products will soon disappear.

Slovakia has received a letter of formal notice from the European Commission, requesting that it remove restrictions in the food retail sector. Under the current legislation, drafted by the Slovak National Party (SNS) and adopted by the previous government, at least one half of products promoted in store leaflets have to be of Slovak origin.

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“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 sales surfaces,” the EC wrote in a press release.

These measures are against the EU rules on the free movement of goods and the freedom of establishment, it added.

Slovakia now has three months to respond to the arguments. Otherwise, the EC may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

Retail chains welcome 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, explained Ján Lazur, a lawyer at the Taylor Wessing law firm, in the Sme daily article from November 2019.

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.

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