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As announced in January, BLOMSTEIN is publishing a series of briefings introducing into European and German legal defence matters. In our last briefing, we have provided some insight into the regulatory framework for the defence industry to produce and sell from the EU.

The cooperation of EU Member States regarding defence and security policy and activities ranks high on the European Union’s agenda. This includes EU Member States’ joint procurement of military and sensitive equipment within the meaning of Directive 2009/81 on procurements in the fields of defence and security. Advantages of such joint procurements to national procedures are manifold, including cost reductions through scale economies, facilitated in-use collaboration due to increased interoperability of material and a strengthening of allies.

This briefing gives an overview over the legal framework of such joint procurements. In practice, EU Member States assign the task of procuring equipment from suppliers (mainly private companies) to a single entity (Executive Entity), which, in turn, conducts the procurement for (the benefit of) all participating EU Member States. Candidates for the role as Executive Entity are, firstly, states – participating EU Member States or third countries – acting as a “lead nation”. However, multinational institutions such as the European Defence Agency (EDA), NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) or Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matière d’Armement (OCCAR) can also take on this role.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hot topic of the moment. Interest in the use of AI systems is growing in both the private and public sectors. The motives are obvious: the hope is to increase the efficiency and speed of decision-making processes, save costs and achieve better results overall.

However, the regulation of AI is still in its early stages. At the end of 2023, the EU Parliament and Council agreed to adopt a regulation to regulate AI systems based on the proposal submitted by the Commission in 2021 (AI Act). It was formally adopted by the EU Parliament on 13 March 2024 and has yet to be adopted by the Council. The AI Regulation enters into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and will be fully applicable - with some exceptions - 24 months after its entry into force. The AI Act is intended to ensure a reasonable balance between risk and innovation. The needs of citizens, SMEs and start-ups will be particularly taken into account and protected.

In light of the expected AI Act, potential challenges in relation to the procurement of AI systems shall be identified. Questions in the context of direct use of AI in a procurement procedure, e.g. in tenders or tender preparation with the help of AI, are explicitly not addressed.

The following considerations are a continuation in a series of BLOMSTEIN briefings addressing AI-related aspects of public procurement law, competition law, trade/direct investment (FDI) and ESG.

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As announced in January, BLOMSTEIN is publishing a series of briefings introducing into European and German legal defence matters. In our last briefing, we discussed when and how to challenge unlawful single source contracts in the EU.

Today’s topic concerns the relationship between public procurement, constitutional law and the division of powers in the German Government:

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Together with the Berlin Chamber of Architects, BLOMSTEIN is promoting a more competition-friendly public procurement of architectural and planning services in Berlin since 2020.

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As announced mid-January, BLOMSTEIN is publishing a series of briefings introducing into European and German legal defence matters. In our last briefing, we discussed the far-reaching impact CBAM will have on the defence industry in Europe.

"Faster, more effective and less bureaucratic" is the motto proclaimed by German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius when outlining his goals for defence procurement. One method – the so-called “direct award” – has always been an attractive option for contracting authorities interested in accelerating its procurement. Companies covet such awards because they avoid complicated and time-consuming procedures. On the other hand, those businesses that come away empty-handed often seek a way to challenge the legality of direct awards. This briefing will give an introduction to the strict conditions under which the law allows contracting authorities in Europe and Germany in particular to dispense with competitive tendering, and the particularities of the remedies available to competitors.

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A popular way for contracting authorities to avoid a time-consuming and costly award procedure is a so-called direct award. In such a procedure, contracting authorities decide in favour of a supplier without publishing a tender. If a direct award is unlawful, affected competitors often lack legal protection in the absence of timely knowledge of an infringement. What many do not know is that, even if the deadline for a review procedure under public procurement law has expired, there are still opportunities to take action against illegal direct awards.

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Since 12 October 2023, the notification obligations under the EU’s new Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) have been in force. Meanwhile, a number of cases were notified to the European Commission (Commission) and practical experience gathered. The Commission has recently announced its first in-depth investigation concerning a Chinese railway company. This case shows that the Commission is determined to use its new powers under the FSR. This briefing summarizes once again companies' obligations pursuant to the FSR and provides some practical guidance from the first months of application.

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Lobbying is an everyday reality in politics and constitutes an integral part of democracy. However, in the recent past, several lobbying scandals have revealed deficits in the transparency of lobbying – also in Germany. In particular, lobbying was often not subject to public scrutiny. To counteract the deficits, the German Bundestag has passed the German Lobbying Register Act in 2021. It obliges lobbyists to sign up in a Lobbying Register and publish certain information in connection with their lobbying activities. Recently, the German Bundestag has amended the Act, inter alia by extending the scope of the obligation to register. The changes will come into force on 1 March 2024. They constitute additional obligations both for companies which are already registered in the Lobbying Register as well as new obligations to register for companies which do not have a Lobbying Register entry yet. As violations of obligations under the Lobbying Register Act can be sanctioned with harsh fines up to EUR 50.000 and there is also a risk of considerable reputational damage, it is crucial for companies to ensure compliance with the new rules.

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BLOMSTEIN hat Fastned bei dem erfolgreichen Angebot im Rahmen der Autobahnlose-Ausschreibung beraten. Die Autobahn GmbH hat am 9. Februar 2024 den Zuschlag auf das Angebot von Fastned in dem bereits 2021 eingeleiteten Vergabeverfahren erteilt. Fastned wird im Rahmen des Deutschlandnetzes in den nächsten Jahren an 34 Standorten an unbewirtschafteten Autobahnraststätten Schnellladeinfrastruktur errichten. Der Autobahnlose-Ausschreibung kommt eine maßgebliche Bedeutung für die Entstehung eines flächendeckenden Schnellladenetzes zu.

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As announced mid-January, BLOMSTEIN is publishing a series of briefings introducing into European and German legal defence matters. In our last briefing, we discussed our take on hot legal topics for the defence industry for the year 2024.

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