EC President Jean Claude Juncker has admitted that there was “a problem of double standards” when it comes to products sold in different parts of the EU.
He did so after a meeting with Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, describing the problem as non trivial and denouncing the practice of selling products under the same name but with different ingredients as “totally unacceptable.”
However, Juncker told a joint news conference with Fico that he “does not believe new European laws will have to be passed because of this.”
“Slovak people, Slovak consumers, they have the absolute right to have the same quality of products. We are not dealing with matter with a benign, neglect way. It’s also a matter where we have to prove as a Commission, as EU that there are no second category citizens in Europe. All the citizens have equal rights because they have equal dignity,” Juncker said, according to Euronews.
Fico arrived at the meeting in Brussels together with EU Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Rights Vera Jourova, and European Council President Donald Tusk, who was there in his role as the Visegrad 4 emissary.
This group of central and eastern European countries has been increasingly loud in recent years in asking not to be treated as “Europe’s trash can,” claiming that Czechs, Poles, Slovaks and Hungarians “have every right to buy products under the same name that have the same ingredients and quality (as in other parts of the EU).”
“The most important fact for me is that the Commission and the president accept that the problem exists and that the president has pledged to devote attention to this issue,” Fico said.
“It might seem ridiculous to some people but for Visegrad 4 it is a serious political problem,” he said.
Fico last week described the issue as an “international scandal,” AFP reported, and said after the meeting with Juncker that he hoped the practice that is turning Slovaks into lower class Europeans would disappear completely.
Jourova, who comes from the Czech Republic, warned in the past that all products sold in Europe under the same name must be of the same quality, and said that member-states have national control mechanisms that could, to a large extent, put and end to the practice.
Government-backed studies in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic appear to show that many items sold with identical packaging were of superior quality in other EU countries, AFP said.