On 18 April, the European Parliament adopted the CBAM, an unprecedented carbon border adjustment charge, which takes into account the greenhouse gas emissions embedded in imported goods of emissions-intensive sectors with a high risk of so-called “carbon leakage”. Carbon leakage takes place when, for reasons of costs related to climate policies in the EU, businesses transfer their production plants to other countries outside the bloc with less costly climate policies (see our briefing from July 2021). The initiative is part of the 2030 Climate and Energy “Fit for 55” legislative package under the European Green Deal, an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% until 2030 compared to the levels of 1990.read more
ECJ: Electricity tax exemptions for electricity generation also for upstream and downstream operations.
In its ruling dated March 9, 2023, in the case C-571/21, the ECJ clarified that electricity manufacturers are entitled to exemption from electricity tax for a large number of operations that are upstream and downstream of the actual generation of electricity, in accordance with an interpretation of national law that is consistent with EU law. The ECJ thus sets limits to the hitherto prevailing view in customs administration and case law.read more
EU Regulation on deforestation-free products: What comes next for importers / exporters of agricultural commodities?
On 19 April, the European Parliament approved the Regulation on deforestation-free products, which prohibits the placement of a number of agricultural and livestock products originating from deforested or degraded forest areas on the EU market (text will be available here). The Regulation aims to block imports associated with deforestation, particularly cattle (whether live, meat or leather), cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soy, timber and rubber (read our briefing from November 2021).read more
After a reportedly heated debate among EU leaders, the EU has adopted its long announced tenth package of sanctions at the anniversary of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The latest package introduces yet another set of comprehensive sanctions, including additional financial sanctions on individuals, companies, and three additional Russian banks, the expansion of export and import bans, measure aimed at strengthening enforcement and preventing circumvention, as well as further measures. No additional measures were taken with respect to Belarus. Here are the details:read more
The 12th edition of Getting the Deal Through: Foreign Investment Review has just been published. Roland Stein and Leonard von Rummel once again contributed the chapter on the German foreign investment review regime, as in the previous years’ editions.read more
After 6 years of a loud silence, Germany has re-established its relationship with Brazil. Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid an official visit to Brazil on 30 January 2023 with a bag of 200 million euros in investments on environmental / sustainability initiatives in Brazil, and a clear interest on fostering sustainable agriculture, the production of green hydrogen and to advance trade agreement between the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and EU.read more
Germany is moving forward with its tender structure for purchasing Green Hydrogen (GH2) subproducts, such as ammonia, methanol, and aviation fuel from countries outside the EU. It is the first time that this unique scheme is being implemented, aiming to foster the international market of GH2. Although the deadline is approaching, there is still time to take part of it. Nevertheless, these are the first tenders of a recurrent and regular purchase procedure, in order to bring the necessary security on the demand side, so that the new projects on the supplier side can be structured.read more
As the Russian aggression against Ukraine continues, the EU has consistently expanded its sanctions against Russia. Whereas legal action by the EU has so far been limited to the extension of individual and sector-related sanctions, plans have ripened to increase the effective implementation of these sanctions. The EU Commission has now presented a draft Directive to harmonize the definition of criminal offences and penalties for violations of the restrictive measures within the EU. In addition, the EU member states, together with the other G7 states, have agreed on an oil price cap, which is meant to reduce Russian revenues. Finally, the imposition of further restrictions is currently under discussion. It would be the ninth package of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the war in early 2022. We have summarized these three crucial developments in EU sanctions law below.read more
German Federal Fiscal Court on customs valuation: Retroactive transfer price adjustments not to be taken into account (Hamamatsu decision)
In its May 17, 2022 ruling, the German Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof, BFH) confirmed that it is irrelevant to determine the customs value for imported goods if the transaction value is adjusted subsequently (Case No. VII R 2/19). The ruling marks the end of the Hamamatsu case, in which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) already had taken a position (Judgment of 20 December 2017, C-529/16). The core of the proceedings hinges on whether transfer pricing adjustments in cross-border transactions between affiliated companies are to be taken into account retrospectively when determining the customs value.read more
On 1 January 2023, the “Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains” (the “Act”) will enter into force for companies with more than 3000 employees in Germany. In order to specify the obligations under the Act, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (“BAFA”) published several guidance documents, most recently one on the complaints procedure (in German) under Sec. 8 and 9 of the Act. In this briefing, we summarize the main specifications and recommendations provided in the guidance document.read more