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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With the 15th amendment of the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will soon extend its control over acquisitions of German companies by EU foreign companies. The amendment is perceived as the Federal Government’s direct reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, due to its concern in large part to protect the healthcare sector. The case of the Tübingen-based company CureVac, involving a US purchaser and raising the question of the right of prohibition, may have also contributed to this development. The 16th amendment to the AWV is expected to comprehensively expand and adapt investment control in foreign trade law. It is aimed at uniformly implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/452 (*_EU Screening Regulation*_), which came into force in April 2019, and the amendment to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) adopted already by the Cabinet on 8th April 2020. Since the latter remains under discussion in the committees of the Bundestag, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has brought forward what it considers to be particularly urgent adjustments.

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Since the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented a new draft of the corporate sanctions law (“Gesetz zur Stärkung der Integrität in der Wirtschaft”) on 22 April 2020, debate has flared up again about how to deal with legal violations within companies. In the past, associations and experts urged that the main objectives of the new law must be to promote compliance measures and transparency around violations within companies internally.

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