Savvy expats know that heading to Germany to shop for everything from clothes to groceries can mean a big difference in quality and price when compared to the Czech Republic.
Czech policy makers have also taken note of that difference. A recent series of tests confirmed the long-standing belief that inferior products are being sold on the Czech and Slovak markets by the same manufacturer under the same name, while foods destined for the German or Austrian markets contain higher-quality raw material.
Changes to these practices were anticipated when the European Commission, together with the EU Council and the European Parliament, met the week before Christmas to adopt a new directive to protect consumers in Europe.
Mention of dual-quality food, however, was absent from the New Consumer Agreement, despite attempts by Czech ministers to ensure its inclusion.
According to a news report from TV Nova, Austria, the current president of the Council of the EU Council, dismissed the ban on dual-quality food proposed by their Czech colleagues.
The step has prompted a strong response from Czech political circles. “I have a big problem with the Austrian approach, it is necessary that the dual quality of the food is affected by the court decision, the dual quality of the food is forbidden, unfair, it is a so-called unfair practice,” MEP Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09) told TN.cz which called the move a “betrayal”.
Austria is chairing the EU Council until the end of this year, after which the position will be held by Romania, which could mean an optimistic change in terms of the fight for same-quality food standards for the Czech Republic.
“I hope it will be more receptive to this matter than leaving Austria,” said the author of the amendments to the directive and MEP Olga Sehnalová.
The directive should be approved before the elections to the European Parliament in the spring of next year.
Foodgroot, a new app currently in the testing phase wants to allow shoppers to rank food quality with a concept that works a bit like IMDB or its Czech counterpart ČSFD. In light of the recent EU news, its founders said that consumer initiatives such as this one are the only way to fight the issue of dual-quality food in Europe.