Budapest (MTI) – Lawmakers amended for the second time on Tuesday a law on the construction of shopping malls in response to President Janos Ader’s concerns.
The amended law on the protection of the environment was approved with 119 votes in support, 35 against and 18 abstentions. It was originally approved on Dec. 9 but Ader returned it to parliament for reconsideration on Dec. 19.
The ban on the construction of shopping malls was introduced in January 2012 and it was going to expire at the beginning of 2015 but parliament extended the ban on Dec. 9. Additionally, the amendment stipulated that a special licence was required for the construction or expansion of shops with an area of more than 400 square metres, as against 300 square metres in the original law.
The first amendment of the law on the protection of the built environment regulated the construction of shopping malls, requiring construction of retail spaces larger than 400 sqm to be cleared by a special committee. In response to concerns expressed by Ader, parliament changed the details of the regulation for the acquisition of this licence in line with a recommendation by the legislative committee.
Ader said the amendment went against the European Union principle banning restrictions on the free movement of citizens of member states to another member state. He noted that the rule applied to the economic activities of businesses, too. EU rules also require equal treatment of companies from an EU member state doing business in another member state, he added.
Ader said the European Court of Justice had taken the stand that the rule of equal treatment prohibits veiled, as well as obvious, forms of discrimination.
The second amendment passed after Ader’s concerns was in connection with a law that bans the sale of fast-moving consumer goods in large shops that fail to make a profit in two consecutive years. The amendment cut the net revenue limit for which the ban applies to 15 billion forints from the original 50 billion forints. A further change in the law brought closer the deadline by which the new rule would apply to Jan. 1, 2017 from 2018, and clarified that the revenue would be calculated based on the results of the 2015 and 2016 business years.
Ader sent back the original version, also citing the European Union principle on the free movement of citizens. The legislation passed on Dec. 9 clearly affected big foreign-owned retail chains. He also noted it should be clarified how to calculate the compliance deadline after the legislation comes into force.