published: 21.09.2012, 12:54 | updated: 21.09.2012 16:13:30
Brussels - The Czech Republic must inform Brussels before it intends to lift the ban on Czech liquor exports and it should be a joint decision, European Commission (EC) spokesman Frederic Vincent told CTK today.
The EC welcomes the ban on liquor exports and other steps the Czech government took in reaction to a series of methanol poisoning from bootleg alcohol in the country, Vincent said.
The source of the poisonous alcohol must be found first and only then the ban can be lifted, according to the EC.
Experts from the EU member states were debating the methanol scandal in the Czech Republic today, Vincent noted.
It was agreed that the Czech Republic would not make any unilateral decision changing the current measure, Vincent said.
Czech Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) imposed an immediate ban on exports of spirits containing more than 20 percent alcohol from the Czech Republic on Thursday evening, under the pressure from the EU that planned to ban imports of Czech liquor.
"The European Commission has accepted the (Czech) government´s solution to the ban on alcohol exports and withdrawn from its schedule the point on the basis of which it wanted to ban exports of hard liquor from the Czech Republic until November 15," Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl (Civic Democrats, ODS) said today.
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli said he welcomed the measures taken by the Czech national offices after intensive discussions in the past few days.
Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) said on Thursday the EU had intended to ban liquor imports from the Czech Republic for up to two months if Prague did not take the step.
The EU might have decided on the ban, initiated by the EC, today.
Brussels criticised the fact that a partial prohibition was declared on Czech territory only when the government banned liquor sales in kiosks and street stalls and later it extended the ban on any serving and sales of spirits containing over 20 percent alcohol content.
The first ban did not apply to exports.
The EC pointed out that similar restrictive measures should not be limited to one member state only in the EU with a free market.
Spirits tainted with methanol have killed more than 20 people in the Czech Republic this month. Some 40 people are treated in hospital with methanol poisoning symptoms.
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