Czechs to make mandatory minimum of local food in stores

PRAGUE (AP) — The lower house of the Czech Parliament approved on Wednesday a requirement that supermarkets carry a minimum share of local food, a move to be less dependent on imports.

The share of Czech food in stores that are bigger than 400 sq. meters (4305 sq. feet) should be at least 55% in 2022 and increase to at least 73% in 2028, according to the bill.

It was drafted by the opposition populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party that pushed it through the house with the help from the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The controversial move still needs to be approved by the upper house, the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition, and then by the president. The lower house can override a possible Senate or presidential veto by a simple majority.

Those who voted in favor of the bill argued that the coronavirus pandemic showed that it is important for the country to be self-sufficient in food production.

They said the move will also boost local agriculture. It applies to about 120 food products such as pork, beef, milk, honey and various vegetables already produced in the Czech Republic.

Eight European Union countries had protested against the bill, saying it would discriminate against imported products, which is illegal under EU rules.

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