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This week, the European Commission finally adopted its long-awaited new Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER). Together with the also updated vertical guidelines, the new rules define competition law requirements for distribution and supply agreements for the next decade. When the new VBER enters into force in June, it will bring significant changes, particularly concerning e-commerce and online distribution. We summarise the most important changes.

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a rethink in Germany. Suddenly, extensive funds are to be made available with which the urgently needed equipping of the German Armed Forces can finally be realised. The equipment is now to be provided as quickly as possible. The first procurement actions have already been initiated.

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After several serious war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, the EU has once again significantly expanded its sanctions against Russia. While some of the new sanctions extend existing prohibitions, most new sanctions provisions contain completely new trade restrictions. We summarised the main developments in this briefing.

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On 23 March the European Commission has adopted temporarily applicable State aid rules enabling Member States to support businesses particularly hit by the economic repercussions following the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. This includes economic consequences of sanctions imposed on Russia and Russia’s countersanctions.

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Almost four weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its ongoing military aggression, the EU has adopted another – the fourth – package of sanctions against Russia on 15 March 2022. This briefing provides an overview on these latest developments, which concern not only the adding of more oligarchs and regime-affiliated elites to the EU’s sanctions list, but also tighten trade restrictions with respect to, among others, the import of steel products, the trade with luxury goods, including vehicles and their spare parts, as well as transactions with certain Russian state-owned enterprises.

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Over the past two weeks, the EU has adopted various far-reaching sanctions against Russia, the areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, and Belarus. We have kept you updated of these developments in previous briefings. However, the large number of recent regulations and the resulting various amendments they have brought to the sanctions regime make it difficult not to lose track. Against this backdrop and following our latest briefing on financial sanctions, the following concise overview serves to provide guidance on the restrictions concerning the trade with goods and services.

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The European Commission’s Block Exemption Regulation for Vertical Agreements (VBER) is the most relevant guidance for the assessment of dual distribution agreements under EU competition law. Together with the accompanying Vertical Guidelines, it shapes the application of the antitrust prohibition to various distribution constellations.

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In view of “Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine”, as the relevant Regulations coin it, the EU has tightened the financial sanctions on Russia. Introduced via Council Regulations of 25 February, 28 February and 1 March, the revised and newly inserted Articles 5 to 5i of the amended Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 seek to largely restrict access to the EU capital market by Russia’s central bank, several major banks and key companies. As announced in our briefing of 26 February 2022 on the EU’s second round of Russia sanctions, we will go into more detail on these sanctions in the following.

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Since last night, the EU has adopted further sanctions against Russia. The new restrictions concern the listing of further persons, including Oligarchs with close ties to President Putin, and the aviation sector. The SWIFT de-coupling is not yet legally implemented.

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On 25 February 2022, the European Union (EU) has agreed upon further sanctions against Russia as a reaction to, as the European Council put it, “the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.” :

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