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The Czech Republic

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2009 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 708 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 503 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 703 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1746 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1200 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission took the view that considerable work was required to bring Czech legislation into line with the Community acquis in the medium term. Although the compatibility of national legislation with Community standards was considered satisfactory in such fields as product safety, the indication of prices and the labelling of textile products, there was no legislation governing other sectors. There was also a call to coordinate and organise the responsibilities of the various bodies responsible for consumer protection and to ensure that the legislation was implemented.

The November 1998 Report stressed that bringing Czech legislation into line with the acquis had fallen behind and called on the Czech Republic to make additional efforts in this area.

The October 1999 Report noted that progress in bringing Czech legislation into line with the acquis continued to be unsatisfactory in important areas and that further efforts were necessary.

In its October 2002 Report the Commission noted that the negotiations on this chapter had been provisionally closed. The Czech Republic had not requested any transitional arrangements in this area. In order to complete preparations for membership, the Czech Republic's efforts needed to focus on the fine-tuning of its legislation, the adoption of any outstanding measures and the ongoing improvements to coordination amongst the institutions involved.

The October 2003 Report concludes that the Czech Republic is essentially in line with the Community acquis in the areas of both safety-related measures and non-safety-related measures (e.g. consumer organisations). However, it needs to improve market surveillance in order to ensure implementation of these measures and strengthen the administrative structures responsible for implementation.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

The Community acquis covers the protection of consumers' economic interests (notably in the fields of misleading advertising, indication of prices, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, distance selling, package travel, and timeshares), general product safety, cosmetics safety, the labelling of textile products and toy safety.

The European Association Agreement provides for aligning the legislation with Community law and for cooperation measures to bring Czech consumer protection law fully into line with the Community rules. The measures set out in the first phase of the White Paper on the Central and Eastern European Countries and the Internal Market (1995) focus on the improvement of product safety, notably in respect of cosmetics, textiles and toys, and on the protection of consumers' economic interests, mainly in the field of misleading advertising, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, and indication of prices. The second-phase measures concern package travel and timeshares. New, recently adopted Community legislation (distance selling, comparative advertising and indication of prices) must also be transposed.

EVALUATION

Safety-related measures

The Czech Republic has made a considerable effort to comply with the acquis as regards safety-related measures. In 2003 it transposed the Directive on general product safety.
Market surveillance is already well-established, and is divided between several bodies, principally the Czech Agricultural and Food Inspectorate (CAFI), the State Veterinary Administration (specified areas of food control) and the Czech Trade Inspectorate (CTI) (non-food products and protection of consumers' economic interests).
The division of responsibilities between these different organisations has been increasingly clarified, but efficiency and coordination among the actors could still be improved further. Efforts should continue in order to increase the operability of the existing system for the exchange of information between market surveillance bodies.

The Czech Republic is in the process of adapting its arrangements in order to participate in the RAPEX information system on dangerous products, more specifically by using the PROSAFE network (European Product Safety Forum).

Non-safety-related measures

The Czech Republic has practically completed transposition of the acquis as regards non-safety-related measures, although a system for the out-of-court settlement of disputes outside the financial services area still needs to be developed.

Consumer organisations

The situation as regards consumer organisations is very positive. Following the latest changes to legislation, consumer organisations can now apply for an injunction for the protection of consumers' interests. However, they should participate more actively in the creation and observation of safety standards and in raising awareness of consumers' rights.
The number of consumer organisations has increased in recent years, as has their level of professionalism. Their integration into European structures such as the European Bureau of Consumer Unions (BEUC), the European Association for the Coordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC) and the Association of European Consumers (AEC) has continued. Government funding for them has also improved.
The work of these organisations focuses on giving free advice and information through nearly 50 advice centres, publishing and education, comparative testing of products and goods, and out-of-court settlement of disputes.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 29.01.2004
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