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As announced last week, BLOMSTEIN is publishing a series of briefings introducing into European and German legal defence matters. In preparation for the new year, our defence team got together and identified the topics that we believe will be relevant for companies in the security and defence industry in the EU and Germany in international trade law, ESG, antitrust law and public procurement law:

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In Summer 2023, the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) was adopted. ASAP marks the final stage of a three-track plan for the delivery and joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine. While the first two tracks concerned the intended supply of 1 million rounds of stock ammunition to the Ukraine (track 1) and the promotion of joint procurement by EU member states (track 2), ASAP aims to strengthen the supply-side by increasing the European defense industry’s production capacities of ammunition and missiles (track 3). In contrast to the first two tracks, which responded to an immediate need for military supply following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ASAP focuses on longer-term objectives.

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On 12 October 2023, the notification and declaration obligations of the Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) will finally start to apply. The new review procedures for M&A transactions and bids in public procurement procedures are aimed to address distortions caused by foreign subsidies and thus ensure a level playing field for all companies operating in the EU Single Market. While the European Commission has recently provided further clarity on some of the procedural aspects of the FSR (see our latest briefing), there is still significant uncertainty about the actual compliance requirements for companies. This briefing aims to alert businesses to the pitfalls to watch out for and to provide practical guidance on how to successfully navigate these new regulatory waters.

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BLOMSTEIN advised Helsing, as it did on the previous Series A financing 2021, together with YPOG on the recent Series B financing round with a total volume of EUR 209 million. BLOMSTEIN supported with regard to investment control law. A big thank you goes to Helsing as well as to the entire YPOG team for the trust placed in us!

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On July 12, the first of three instruments of the Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) entered into force. As of this date, the Commission is entitled to initiate investigations into third country subsidies that distort the internal market either on its own initiative or based on a complaint by a third-party (so-called ex officio tool). Later this year, the notification-based instruments for mergers and bids in procurement procedures will enter into force on October 12. Then, companies exceeding the thresholds set by the FSR in the relevant market situations will be required to notify financial contributions granted by third countries to the Commission. Just in time for the entry into force of the ex officio tool, the Commission adopted the Implementing Regulation on July 10, which provides procedural information but also has a direct impact on the scope and interpretation of the FSR. The Commission also responded to the significant criticism raised by companies and associations, particularly with regard to the high administra-tive burden triggered by the FSR.

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BLOMSTEIN represents Fastned in review proceedings concerning the award of contracts for the construction, maintenance and operation of fast charging stations at serviced rest stops on the German federal highways. The contract had been awarded to companies of the Tank & Rast Group by the Autobahn GmbH of the German Government without conducting a competitive public procurement procedure.

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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.

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On 6 February, the European Commission (Commission) published a draft Implementing Regulation on detailed arrangements for the conduct of proceedings pursuant to the Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) including relevant notification forms. Interested parties have the possibility to provide the Commission with feedback on the draft regulation until 6 March 2023 via an online portal.

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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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On 28 November 2022, the Council has finally approved the regulation on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market (Foreign Subsidies RegulationFSR). The FSR was adopted with only minor changes to the provisional agreement of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 July 2022. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU’s Official Journal, so likely still this year. Most of the new rules will be directly applicable after 6 months, but the new notification requirements for M&A transactions and public procurement procedures will apply 9 months after entry into force of the FSR, i.e. around the start of Q4 2023.

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