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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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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not only turned the European security architecture upside down. It has also triggered a massive and ongoing rethink of security and defence within the European Union as a whole and its Member States individually. With conflicts flaring up in the Middle East and the future of peace in the Far East uncertain, Europe now faces a host of additional challenges for its foreign and security policy, as well as controversial decisions about meaningful consequences for its internal defence and security industries. The impact will be felt not only by the EU and its Member States, but also by any defence company operating or wishing to operate in the EU market.

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Seit dem 1. Januar 2023 ist das deutsche Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG) in Kraft. Bisher betraf es inländische Unternehmen mit mindestens 3.000 Mitarbeitenden. Ab dem 1. Januar 2024 erweitert sich der Anwendungsbereich auf Unternehmen mit mehr als 1.000 Beschäftigten. Der Kreis betroffener Unternehmen wird damit erheblich größer. Für neu betroffene Unternehmen haben wir die zentralen Pflichten des LkSG im Überblick zusammengenfasst, die unmittelbar seit Anfang Januar 2024 gelten. Außerdem geben wir einen Ausblick auf die neusten Entwicklungen zu dem geplanten EU-Lieferkettengesetz.

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The German Federal Government and the European Union have recently announced further steps to promote the expansion of the European and global green hydrogen economy. To this end, they will provide financial support totaling to over one billion euro in two separate funds: the Innovation Fund by the European Union (EUR 800 million) and the PtX Development Fund financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (EUR 270 million). Both sources of funding are now open for participation, with deadlines for application expiring on 1 March 2024 (PtX Development Fund) and 8 February 2024 (Innovation Fund Auction).

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The EU introduced the Regulation establishing an EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). Under the CBAM, importers into the EU of carbon-intensive goods (mainly cement, electricity, fertilizers, iron and steel, aluminum, and hydrogen) will be required to pay a charge for the carbon emissions embedded in those products. This charge will be gradually phased in from 2026 to 2034.

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Over the last three months, BLOMSTEIN has assisted the American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova (AmCham) to improve the Moldovan screening mechanism for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). This was achieved in close cooperation with the CELIS Institute, in particular its Executive Director Prof Dr Steffen Hindelang. AmCham was on its side supported by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). The team’s main aim was to improve the already existing provisions, render them more effective and align them with EU requirements as well as best practises in EU member states.

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EU importers should be aware that CBAM legislation may have a significant impact on their operations, supply chain, and logistics. They need to quantify their carbon footprint and prepare for the financial obligations and administrative measures required by CBAM. The first CBAM report about the embedded greenhouse gas emissions is due by 31 January 2024. Here is an update of what EU importers will have to do, what help is available, and if fines are due when the report is not submitted in time.

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The 12th package of EU sanctions against Russia, aimed at further increasing economic pressure in response to Russia's continued aggression towards Ukraine, entered into force on 19 December 2023. It includes additional listings of Russian individuals and companies as well as new trade restrictions, such as the long-awaited import ban on Russian diamonds and prohibitions related to enterprise management software. Of particular practical relevance are additional measures against the circumvention of long-standing sanctions, including a new obligation for EU exporters to contractually prohibit the re-export of certain sensitive goods to Russia.

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The EU Commission (Commission) consulted stakeholders during the summer to evaluate the Regulation (EU) No 2019/452 (EU-Screening Regulation) and recently published the survey’s results. The consultation is part of the EU’s ongoing evaluation of the current FDI screening framework and follows the recent release of its third "Annual Report on the screening of foreign investments into the Union", as we noted in an earlier briefing. As the Commission is expected to formally propose revisions to the EU Screening Regulation by the end of 2023, the survey’s results highlight the various stakeholders’ views on the framework, which are likely to inform the upcoming changes. Key findings include the following:

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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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