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If the Western states stick to their pronouncements of the past few days, the imposition of further sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine is only a matter of time. The EU has already announced a crisis summit for tonight (24 February 2022), which will lead to a massive tightening of yesterday’s sanctions for Russia’s recognition of independence of Ukrainian’s regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The current sanctions regime consists of two layers:

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The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action was able to fend off an attempt by Taiwanese chip supplier GlobalWafers to have the foreign trade law condition for the Siltronic takeover established by means of an urgent appeal. The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg dismissed GlobalWafers’ appeal against the ruling of the Berlin Administrative Court passed shortly before (OVG 1 S 10/22).

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While generally, sustainability initiatives and Environmental Social Governance (ESG) become increasingly important for both consumers and investors, the line between strengthening cooperation to achieve sustainability goals and compliance with competition law remains a fine one (see also our briefing of 7 February 2021). The German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has recently examined three sector initiatives aimed at sustainability gains. While the agency did not publish detailed decisions or case reports, some guidance can still be concluded from its findings.

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BLOMSTEIN advises Chinese terminal operator COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (COSCO) on foreign direct investment aspects relating to its entry into the German market. COSCO is acquiring a minority stake of 35 % in Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT) from the Port of Hamburg Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA). The deal is subject to various FDI and merger control clearances.

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Today, 17 December 2021, is the deadline for implementing the EU Whistleblower Directive. So far, only Sweden and Denmark have transposed the Whistleblower Directive into respective national regulations; Portugal managed to pass a law by majority vote of the parliament in time, but the Portuguese transposition law will not enter into force until mid-2022. Germany, on the other hand, is threatened with infringement proceedings as the coalition partners of the old government could not agree on a first draft bill, the so-called Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of the Federal Ministry of Justice. However, the recently published coalition deal of the newly elected coalition picks up the issue again, so that new developments on the Whistleblower Protection Act seem to be underway. The coalition agreement commits to implement the directive, which creates a uniform legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers throughout the Union, in a “legally secure and practicable” manner. Germany plans to protect whistleblowers from legal disadvantages not only when reporting breaches of EU law, but also when reporting significant breaches of national regulations or any other significant misconduct, where disclosure is of special public interest.

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BLOMSTEIN has successfully advised Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (Teva) on the German foreign direct investment aspects of its strategic licensing collaboration with MODAG GmbH (MODAG).

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A Comissão Europeia apresentou, em 17 de novembro de 2021, a “Proposta de regula-mento sobre produtos sem desmatamento” (Regulamento sobre Desmatamento ou Regulamento, cujos documentos relevantes podem ser encontrados aqui), com objetivo de evitar a comercialização em seu território de produtos associados a desmatamento ou degradação florestal. A lista de produtos é definida pelo art. 1º do Regulamento sobre Desmatamento, a saber: gado (seja o gado in natura, carne ou couro), cacau, café, óleo de palma, soja e madeira, bem como subprodutos, produtos que contenham ou que resultem dos mesmos (em conjunto, Produtos Relevantes). O Anexo I do Regulamento apresenta a lista exaustiva dos subprodutos e derivados sujeitos a suas regras.

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The European Commission has proposed on the 17th of November 2021 the “Proposal for a regulation on deforestation-free products” (Draft Deforestation Regulation, relevant documents here), a regulation to prevent the entrance into the European Union’s market of cattle (live cattle, meat and leather), cocoa, coffee, oil palm, soya and wood and certain products that either contain or are made using these together Relevant Products), associated with deforestation and forest degradation. The Relevant Products are set out in Article 1 of the Draft Deforestation Regulation, while its Annex I list the full range of by-products that are subject to its rules.

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BLOMSTEIN advises German defense AI company Helsing on its EUR 102.5 million Series A financing round with regard to German investment control law. As part of this financing round, the European investment company Prima Materia has invested around EUR 100 million in the company. Helsing was founded in 2021 with offices in Munich, Berlin and London. The software startup plans to provide AI technology to different defense and national security agencies of liberal democratic states.

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The common rules of origin and cumulation of the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean (PEM) Convention are a central instrument in the facilitation of trade and the integration of supply chains by way of preferential tariff treatment within the PEM zone, which stretches across the European Union to the other 24 contracting parties (EFTA countries, the Faroe Islands, Turkey and the Mediterranean countries of the Western Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East, including some of their neighbouring countries). The Contracting Parties have been negotiating a revision of the convention since 2012, in order for it to better reflect changing economic realities.

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