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Govʼt repeals law targeting big retailers, but eyes new measures

Hungaryʼs government has submitted to Parliament a bill that would annul provisions on loss-making retailers that have come under the scrutiny of the European Commission. At the same time, a report today indicates it could yet introduce new measures to prevent multinational supermarket chains from "cooking their books."

The new bill would repeal provisions that prohibit big retailers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) from operating in Hungary if they are loss-making for two years in a row, state news agency MTI reported Wednesday.

The European Commission earlier launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the provisions, which it said run counter to the freedom of establishment, the principle of non-discrimination, and the free movement of capital.

At the same time, pro-government daily Magyar Idők reports today that the government could introduce new measures to prevent multinational supermarket chains from "cooking their books."

Magyar Idők insists that the government is not "giving in to European Union bureaucrats" and the repeal of the legislation does not signal a "softening" of its policy on retailers. The paper reports that similar measures intended to crack down on tax evasion in the sector could follow.