The commerce organizations active in the CEE region declare their concern about the restrictions concerning the commerce sector in the CEE region, including existing trade law dealing with agricultural and food products as well as the recent tax-regulations in Hungary.
The commerce sector in the CEE countries has become subject to specific legal restrictions. Between 2008 and 2010, the parliaments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Latvia imposed laws aimed at impairing modern retail development. Some political circles - and unfortunately, official authorities - have followed populist arguments, forgetting about the influence that the modern retail sector exerts on national economies, as well as on the development of entire regions. CEE CC members are extremely concerned with the attempts by national governments to regulate a number of practices that, in many cases, have led to the erection of new barriers. These barriers limit the capacity of foreign businesses and are in breach of internal market principles. Some of these laws seek to cap margins of certain retailers or to limit prices for services. In some cases unclear regulations leave room for maneuver. We, the modern retailers who have invested billions in new economies within the region, believe that the chances given to us should not be nullified by these restrictions. Recently, the retail sectors have observed an escalation of further restrictions. This represents short term thinking from national governments which inhibits growth of national economies. Restrictions in one country may encourage other governments to follow suit, in what we call ‘the spill-over effect’.
As commerce associations we express our concern that such restrictions will impair the CEE region which is striving to catch up with the EU–15. This is one of the strategic objectives both in the EU and CE countries. EU enlargement, fund saturation, and progress-friendly legal solutions being experienced by the new countries cannot be reconciled with the current legal and political actions.
The organizations of commerce in the CEE region appeal to the governments and the European Union to have a closer look at what has happened in the commerce sectors in above mentioned countries and to ensure that community law is applied correctly, including Article 49 (freedom of establishment) and 56 (freedom to provide services).
CEE CC members believe that the commerce sector in our countries has earned the right to expect the best conditions for its development and support for its business activities. The common aim is one of liberal trade, unburdened by unnecessary and damaging regulations of an administrative nature. CEE CC states its intention to resist all forms of discrimination in the region. Moreover, CEE CC members appeal to ensure that CEE trade companies are not deprived of legitimate market access opportunities and that our rights are properly enforced to ensure a level–playing field. We are also determined to continue the fight against protectionism as we believe in the benefits of open markets at home and abroad.
The commerce organizations represented in CEE CC are determined to continue their collaborative work to make barrier removal a corner-stone. This issue should form an important part of the ongoing discussions with the governments and especially EC, EP and other relevant EU institutions. Particular attention should be paid to preventive actions, including the use of early warning notification mechanisms.
Our aim is to make vocal concerns regarding the future of the commerce sector in the CEE region.