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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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After 6 years of a loud silence, Germany has re-established its relationship with Brazil. Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid an official visit to Brazil on 30 January 2023 with a bag of 200 million euros in investments on environmental / sustainability initiatives in Brazil, and a clear interest on fostering sustainable agriculture, the production of green hydrogen and to advance trade agreement between the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and EU.

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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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When the President of the European Commission (Commission), Ursula von der Leyen, announced the adoption of the European Green Deal – a roadmap to a sustainable economy – in 2019, she called it Europe’s “man on the moon moment”. The achievement of the multidisciplinary objectives gathered under the Green Deal is a priority on the EU agenda and the Commission has taken yet another step on lunar soil yesterday in a steady commitment to firm its grip and gain some traction on this new planet.

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After the Digital Markets Act (DMA) entered into force in November 2022, the European Commission is now hosting a series of workshops to consult stakeholders on specific questions regarding the DMA’s implementation. The first workshop dealt with the prohibition on self-preferencing in Article 6(5) DMA and focused on the interpretation of the provision as well as possible solutions to ensure compliance with it in practice.

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On 29 November 2022, the German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ) announced its eagerly awaited ruling on the follow-on lawsuit regarding the so-called “drugstore products cartel” (Case No. KZR 42/20). The full-text version of the judgement was published today. With this judgement, the FCJ explicitly clarifies that in the case of an anti-competitive exchange of information, there is a factual presumption that such information exchange caused a damage.

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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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The latest sanctions package, adopted on 16 December 2022, constitutes the EU’s ninth round of sanctions since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. As in the case of previous packages, the EU has sanctioned further individuals and entities as well as introduced additional trade and sector-specific restrictions. These new measures are effective as of 17 December 2022. We highlight the most important aspects of these latest changes below.

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As the Russian aggression against Ukraine continues, the EU has consistently expanded its sanctions against Russia. Whereas legal action by the EU has so far been limited to the extension of individual and sector-related sanctions, plans have ripened to increase the effective implementation of these sanctions. The EU Commission has now presented a draft Directive to harmonize the definition of criminal offences and penalties for violations of the restrictive measures within the EU. In addition, the EU member states, together with the other G7 states, have agreed on an oil price cap, which is meant to reduce Russian revenues. Finally, the imposition of further restrictions is currently under discussion. It would be the ninth package of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the war in early 2022. We have summarized these three crucial developments in EU sanctions law below.

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On 23 November 2022, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) declared that – for the time being – it does not object to the distribution of Meta VR headsets in Germany. The reason is that Meta has voluntarily refrained from linking its VR headsets to Facebook accounts. This case showcases the first application of Sec. 19a of the Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC) with the effect that a Big Tech company changed its business conduct. In the meantime, further cases are pending before the FCO with the outcome eagerly awaited.

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