For some years now, Brussels has been discussing how to use public procurement law more actively as an instrument of trade policy. The EU has made efforts to end unequal market access for European companies in third countries and to reduce distortions of competition through various measures, such as the rapid signing of bilateral investment agreements. This is due to the fact, that while the EU has largely opened its public procurement markets to companies from third countries, many of these countries do not grant comparable access to EU companies. Moreover, unregulated state subsidies can contribute significantly to unfair competition and play a decisive role in future relations with third countries.

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Trade law compliance and public procurement law expert Bruno Andrioli Galvão joined BLOMSTEIN as independent Senior Trade Advisor in September 2020.

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Yesterday, we co-hosted the first “Christ&Company Dialogue” on restrictions on foreign direct investments together with Christ&Company.

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The latest edition of the journal of export controls and sanctions WorldECR has just been released. BLOMSTEIN lawyers Florian Wolf and Leonard von Rummel have contributed an article about the Franco-German military cooperation with regard to export control matters.

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BLOMSTEIN advised the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy on a public contract in the context of an FDI application.

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On 20 July 2020, the European Commission published a Communication on the protection of confidential information by national courts in proceedings for the private enforcement of EU competition law. It aims to provide guidance to national courts on handling confidential information in competition related litigation.

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On 17 July 2020 2020, the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz) entered into force (AWG-Amendment) , resulting in further tightening of investment controls. The amendment has the aim to implement the EU-Screening-Regulation 2019/452 (EU-Screening-Regulation) and corresponds to Germany’s industrial strategy 2030 (Industriestrategie 2030), which was announced in November 2019 by the Federal Minister for Economics Peter Altmaier (Bundeswirtschaftsminister). The AWG-Amendment is accompanied by an adjustment to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung, AWV), which was hastily initiated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and has since come into force. A second amendment with the aim of harmonizing the AWV with the new amendment to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) is expected for summer 2020.

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On 9 June 2020, the EUI Florence School of Regulation (FSR) hosted a webinar about the role of State aid to nuclear energy in France and Germany. BLOMSTEIN partner Max Klasse featured alongside Guillaume Dezobry (Fidal), with Professor Leigh Hancher (FSR) as moderator. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

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Retail alliances like Coopernic (including, e.g. Ahold Delhaize), AgeCore (with Colruyt, Intermarché and Edeka) or Eurelec (E. Leclerc and Rewe) have been around for a long time. They gained new attention in the past decade because of the sheer, increased number of alliances and because some open trade conflicts. Concerns on restrictions of competition and higher consumer prices were also raised in this context as well as more general negative effects, such as upsetting the balance of power, preventing farmers from getting fair prices for their products while (brand) manufacturers would suffer from heavy bargaining pressure.

Last week, the European Commission published a comprehensive report at the request of the European Parliament about the effects of buying groups and other alliances on supply chains across Europe with the aim of clarifying whether retail alliances are permitted under antitrust law or not.

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BLOMSTEIN has advised leading Chinese locomotive manufacturer CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd. (CRRC ZELC) on the merger control and foreign direct investment (FDI) aspects of its acquisition of Vossloh Locomotives GmbH (Vossloh Locomotives). Following an in-depth review, the transaction received merger control clearance from the Federal Cartel Office on 27 April 2020. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy had cleared the FDI matter earlier this year, also following an in-depth review of the case.

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