Despite protest and all efforts to find a diplomatic solution, the US government has introduced punitive duties on steel (25%) and aluminium (10%) imported by European, Canadian and Mexican companies on Friday, 1 June 2018. The same day, the EU responded promptly and submitted a request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for consultations under a dispute settlement procedure. Canada, the largest steel supplier to the US, has also initiated proceedings at the WTO. The Canadian Foreign Minister has announced to closely cooperate with the EU. Mexico has also expressed its intention to take action against the US.

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Roland Stein, Pascal Friton and Hans-Joachim Prieß are once again ranked by Who’s Who Legal amongst the world’s leading government contracts lawyers.

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During Germany’s Foreign Minister Maas’ recent visit to Washington, D.C., President Trump announced that the US government would consider punitive tariffs on automobiles and automotive parts. This statement is just another step towards the US government’s efforts to isolate the US economy.

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Excise duty expert Hardy Bublitz joined BLOMSTEIN as independent Senior Excise and Trade Advisor in February 2018. Hardy Bublitz, 58 years old, is a renowned expert in excise duties, especially with regard to energy and electricity taxes. He began his career in 1982 in the Federal Customs Administration, where he worked inter alia as an auditor in the mineral oil industry. In 1985, Hardy Bublitz joined Shell, where he held various executive positions until the end of 2017 – most recently as Head of Indirect Tax Advocacy & Litigation DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Hardy specialises in European and national customs law and excise duty law as well as indirect tax compliance. He is a distinguished speaker at events and trade conferences, and an esteemed lecturer in excise duty trainings and in-house seminars.

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Anna Huttenlauch and Max Klasse are listed amongst the world’s leading competition lawyers and economists in the 2018 edition of the prestigious Who’s Who Legal: Competition guide.

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a judgement with potentially far-reaching consequences for companies’ liabilities in public international law. On 27 February 2018 (Case C-266/16Western Sahara Campaign UK v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the ECJ ruled on the validity of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco (the Fisheries Partnership Agreement or the Agreement). The Court concluded that the Fisheries Partnership Agreement was not applicable to Western Sahara and its adjoining waters. Although the underlying circumstances are rather specific, the case deals with general issues of public international law. Companies engaging in commercial activities in this region or other disputed territories should, therefore, carefully examine the judgement’s impact on their businesses. The case is a vivid reminder that trade and investment in disputed areas bear significant political and legal risks.

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BLOMSTEIN ranks 43rd in the 2018 edition of the annual azur100 ranking of the top 100 employers for lawyers.

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The ECJ is about to clarify how excise duties on beer are calculated and whether there is a specific tax duty on flavoured beer. In a request for a preliminary ruling, a Polish court asked for clarification whether substances added after fermentation (e.g. sugar, flavours) may be taken into consideration in the overall calculation of the beer tax. The Advocate General took the position that this should not be the case and that substances added after fermentation should not increase excise duties.

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The new work State Aid and the Energy Sector edited by Leigh Hancher, Adrien de Hauteclocque and Francesco Maria Salerno has been published by Hart Publishing and is now available for purchase.

BLOMSTEIN partner Max Klasse has co-authored the chapter on “Aid to Nuclear and Coal” with Professor Leigh Hancher (Tilburg University), which focuses on energy aid with a distinguished historical pedigree: aid to nuclear and coal. The chapter also provides insights into the relation between the EU State aid rules and the Euratom Treaty, which governs most aspects of the nuclear sector.

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BLOMSTEIN is proud to have been shortlisted in two categories for the The Lawyer European Awards 2018: Law Firm of the Year: Germany and European Specialist Law Firm of the Year and to have been “highly commended” as European Specialist Law Firm of the Year.

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