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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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As of January 1, 2023, companies that fall under the scope of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) will be subject to a reporting obligation. To facilitate the timely and complete implementation of this obligation, BAFA has now published a catalogue of questions that provides a detailed insight into the structure and content of the reporting expected by the authorities. In the following, we briefly outline the most important components and added values of this questionnaire.

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In the 2022 State of the Union the President of the European Commission, President von der Leyen, stressed the economic importance and high supply risk of critical raw materials (CRMs), such as lithium, magnesium, rare earths, and others. In this context, she announced the implementation of the CRM Act, of which the feedback and public consultation period is currently ongoing until 25 November 2022. The topic of CRMs and the EU’s dependency on non-member states for supply is not novel but gained traction in light of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the EU’s reliance on Russian gas and oil. At the same time, China is by far the biggest supplier of CRMs to the EU, and China had used its supply of CRMs as a geopolitical response. In possible future conflicts with China, it can be assumed that China will again use CRM supply geopolitically. The CRM Act is the latest example of the EU’s intention to push towards a digital and sustainable future, the “Twin Transition”, as well as strengthen EU resilience and security. It exemplifies the EU institutions’ unanimous effort to reduce strategic dependencies to ensure the “Twin Transition” of the EU economy.

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Since the Russian invasion began in February 2022, the EU has repeatedly expanded its key legal instrument when it comes to trade and sector-specific sanctions against Russia: Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 (Regulation). Among the various restrictions, several provisions of the Regulation sanction the flow of goods from Russia, prohibiting not only the import but also the purchase and transfer of a wide variety of goods. In its extensive FAQs, the EU Commission has attempted to explain these bans in more detail. As helpful as these interpretations are in principle, however, they have created considerable uncertainty relating to the scope of these prohibitions.

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On 6 October 2022, the European Union introduced a new, eighth wave of economic and individual sanction measures against Russia. The package is a response to Russia’s latest escalation of the war against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. In this briefing, we highlight the most important changes in this package: the expansion of export and import restrictions, the prohibition of certain services to Russian companies, the introduction of a price cap related to the maritime transport of Russian oil, the listing of additional individuals and entities, and the extension of pre-existing sanctions to the newly annexed regions of Ukraine. At the same time, several trade-related restrictions have been amended to avoid threats to nuclear safety and security, allowing for the authorization of exports, imports, or services in relation to civil nuclear capabilities and cooperation.

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On 21st of July 2022, the European Union introduced a new wave of new sanctions measures against Russia. These measures are reflected in the amendments to Council Regulations 833/2014 and 269/2014 and to Council Decisions 2014/512/CFSP and 2014/145/CFSP. The EU’s new measures aim to maintain and strengthen the effectiveness of the previous six packages of sanctions. Furthermore, the new package clarifies a few provisions from the previous packages. Finally, it aligns the EU’s sanctions with its allies, in particular, the G7 countries. In total, the new package contains a slew of updates, including minor tweaks. Below we highlight several important changes in this package.

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BLOMSTEIN advises Brazilian cattle and beef sector representative, Instituto Mato-Grossense da Carne, on EU’s ESG regulatory framework.

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