The control of foreign investments has become increasingly important in the last few years. In Germany, the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung – AWV) has recently been amended. Moreover, for the first time, foreign investments in Germany were prohibited. In the USA, prohibitions have increasingly been issued by CFIUS and extremely long durations of proceedings are being reported. On the initiative of Germany, France and Italy, the European Commission (Commission) has now also taken up the issue: On 13 September 2017, the Commission submitted a Proposal for a Regulation Establishing a Framework for Screening of Foreign Direct Investments into the European Union (Regulation Proposal).

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At this year’s Colloquium on Suspension and Debarment, hosted by The World Bank in Washington, D.C. on 14 September 2017, recent developments in suspension and debarment issues worldwide and their various uses in the context of procurement and anti-corruption were examined.

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The failure of the Doha Round and other multilateral efforts to liberalise trade has led to international trade policy occurring mainly on a bilateral level. The EU in particular has followed an active commercial policy in recent years. The aim of the resulting so-called “new generation” Free Trade Agreements is not only to facilitate cross-border trade of products, but also to develop international supply chains, to create mechanisms for the implementation and the enforcement of the law and to open the market as a whole. Hence, Free Trade Agreements include a wide range of regulations, which go beyond classic regulations to reduce tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

The comprehensive regulatory content of bilateral trade agreements raises the question: does the EU have the competence to conclude such trade agreements? This question was the subject of the request for an opinion by the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The proceeding concerned the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore. The court published its highly anticipated opinion on 16 May 2017 (C-2/15 – the Opinion).

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Extended Review Competence and Longer Review Periods for the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy

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In Germany, acquisitions of companies by foreign investors are subject to investment control in certain sensitive areas. The control regime is aimed at safeguarding essential security interests and limiting foreign influence on German key industries and technologies. It varies depending on the industry concerned: A notification and clearing requirement only applies to acquisitions in the areas of certain military and IT security products. Other acquisitions in industries relevant to Germany’s public order or security are subject to voluntary notification. In such cases, companies may ask for a comfort letter from the authorities, the so-called certificate of non-objection.

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In a judgement on 18 January 2017 (C-365/15 – Wortmann) the ECJ stressed that Member States are obliged to pay interest on duties levied in breach of EU law from the date that these duties were paid. The ECJ thus continued its previous case law from cases Jülich II (joined cases C 113/10, C 147/10 and C 234/10), Littlewoods Retail (C-591/10) and Irimie (C-565/11) and extended it to the EU Customs Code’s scope of application. In comparison to the Court’s judgement in Jülich II, achieved under participation of BLOMSTEIN Of Counsel Hans-Joachim Prieß, in this judgement, the ECJ for the first time establishes for “circumstances such as those in the case in the main proceedings” that Article 241 Customs Code (CC) does not exclude the payment of interests – even though this provision generally exempts customs authorities from the obligation to pay interest.

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Donald Trump’s announcement to become a president unlike any Washington has ever seen has materialised in relation to international trade and international relations: Trump wants to make America great again by means of protectionist measures. Which consequences may arise and how can the EU react?

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BLOMSTEIN recently advised the ADM Group on an important customs law question regarding the correct classification of a chemical product used for the manufacture of foodstuffs.

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On 17 January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May presented her plan for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in a speech given at Lancaster House in London (hereinafter the “Brexit plan”). May made clear that the UK seeks a free trade agreement for its future cooperation with the EU. BLOMSTEIN discussed the possible models of future cooperation between the UK and the EU in a previous post. In this contribution, we will look at the implications that the Brexit plan may have on foreign trade law.

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British Parliament approved Theresa May’s roadmap for Brexit negotiations on 7 December 2016. Under this roadmap, the UK will commence withdrawing from the EU on 31 March 2017. Article 50 TEU puts a cap of 24 months on the withdrawal process. If and how the UK and the EU will cooperate in the post-Brexit world has been the subject of much speculation.

In the following we assess these possible forms of cooperation. Further updates on Brexit’s implications on public procurement, international trade and competition law will follow.

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