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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 gave an overview over the legal framework for joint procurements in the fields of defence and security.

This edition EU funding opportunities for defence and security projects and focuses specifically on the legal remedies available against grant allocation decisions in the context of EU defence funding.

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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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Die Europäische Kommission hat wichtige Änderungen der De-minimis-Beihilfenregelungen vorgenommen, die seit Januar 2024 in Kraft sind. Mit den Änderungen ist insbesondere eine Anhebung der Schwellenwerte verbunden, unterhalb derer staatliche Beihilfe nicht der Genehmigung der Kommission bedürfen.

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Das neue Jahr hat einige Neuerungen im Energie- und Stromsteuerrecht gebracht. Das besonders stromintensive produzierende Gewerbe kann angesichts der gestiegenen Strompreise nun von einer deutlichen Steuerentlastung (in Form einer erhöhten Entlastung) profitieren. Im Gegenzug wurde der Spitzenausgleich im Energie- und Stromsteuerrecht abgeschafft, der aber ohnehin nur große Industriekonzerne begünstigte. Die neu eingeführte Stromsteuerentlastung betrifft dagegen gerade auch den Mittelstand. Außerdem sind die Steuerentlastungen für die Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung und die Steuerbegünstigungen für Strom aus bestimmten Biomassen sowie aus Klär- und Deponiegas weggefallen. Schließlich wurde die Meldeschwelle für Unternehmen, die Beihilfen in Form von Vergünstigungen bei der Energie- und Stromsteuer erhalten, gesenkt. Diese Neuerungen werden im Folgenden erläutert.

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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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At the beginning of February, the European Commission (Commission) presented its Green Deal Industrial Plan, a package of measures designed to help the EU industry to make progress in the transition to climate neutrality and strengthen its position in global competition.

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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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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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