EC starts infringement proceedings against Romania for food products marketing

Newsroom 15/02/2017 | 16:10

The European Commission has started infringement proceedings against Romania for the law passed in July, which compels supermarkets to source 51pct of food products from the Romanian market. The law also forbids supermarkets to impose a “shelf tax” on producers in order to sell their products.

The EC started proceedings against Romania and Hungary for breaching the principle of the free circulation of goods. Article 23 of the EC Treaty stipulates free circulation for Community goods throughout the European Community (EC).

The EC decided on Wednesday to send the two countries a formal notice, the first formal step of an infringement procedure.

In Romania, large retailers are asked to purchase at least 51 percent of food products from local producers. Moreover, the retailers are asked to promote products of Romanian origin, limiting their power of decision on choosing products they are offering.

As per the EU laws, restricting these freedoms is only allowed when there is a justified need to protect a major public interest, such as public health.

In Hungary, a new law makes it compulsory for retailers to apply the same margin of profit for local and imported food products, despite the fact that the price of imported products is conditioned by fluctuations of the exchange rate. This could undermine sale of imported products. The law, the EC warns, could breach the principle of freedom of circulation of goods (Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE).

Neither Hungary, nor Romania provided proof of the fact that national measures are justified and proportional. Hungarian and Romanian authorities have two months to give an answer to arguments provided by the Commission.

If infringement proceedings will continue, the two countries can be brought to the European Court of Justice, which can decide either to overturn the cases, or to place sanctions on the two countries.

Georgeta Gheorghe

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