Extended Review Competence and Longer Review Periods for the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy

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In Germany, acquisitions of companies by foreign investors are subject to investment control in certain sensitive areas. The control regime is aimed at safeguarding essential security interests and limiting foreign influence on German key industries and technologies. It varies depending on the industry concerned: A notification and clearing requirement only applies to acquisitions in the areas of certain military and IT security products. Other acquisitions in industries relevant to Germany’s public order or security are subject to voluntary notification. In such cases, companies may ask for a comfort letter from the authorities, the so-called certificate of non-objection.

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In a judgement on 18 January 2017 (C-365/15 – Wortmann) the ECJ stressed that Member States are obliged to pay interest on duties levied in breach of EU law from the date that these duties were paid. The ECJ thus continued its previous case law from cases Jülich II (joined cases C 113/10, C 147/10 and C 234/10), Littlewoods Retail (C-591/10) and Irimie (C-565/11) and extended it to the EU Customs Code’s scope of application. In comparison to the Court’s judgement in Jülich II, achieved under participation of BLOMSTEIN Of Counsel Hans-Joachim Prieß, in this judgement, the ECJ for the first time establishes for “circumstances such as those in the case in the main proceedings” that Article 241 Customs Code (CC) does not exclude the payment of interests – even though this provision generally exempts customs authorities from the obligation to pay interest.

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Donald Trump’s announcement to become a president unlike any Washington has ever seen has materialised in relation to international trade and international relations: Trump wants to make America great again by means of protectionist measures. Which consequences may arise and how can the EU react?

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BLOMSTEIN recently advised the ADM Group on an important customs law question regarding the correct classification of a chemical product used for the manufacture of foodstuffs.

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On 17 January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May presented her plan for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in a speech given at Lancaster House in London (hereinafter the “Brexit plan”). May made clear that the UK seeks a free trade agreement for its future cooperation with the EU. BLOMSTEIN discussed the possible models of future cooperation between the UK and the EU in a previous post. In this contribution, we will look at the implications that the Brexit plan may have on foreign trade law.

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British Parliament approved Theresa May’s roadmap for Brexit negotiations on 7 December 2016. Under this roadmap, the UK will commence withdrawing from the EU on 31 March 2017. Article 50 TEU puts a cap of 24 months on the withdrawal process. If and how the UK and the EU will cooperate in the post-Brexit world has been the subject of much speculation.

In the following we assess these possible forms of cooperation. Further updates on Brexit’s implications on public procurement, international trade and competition law will follow.

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On 8 and 9 of December, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) hosted the 7th German Energy Tax Day (Energiesteuertag) together with BLOMSTEIN and others. The conference took place in Berlin and offered all relevant stakeholders the opportunity to discuss current topics around energy and electricity taxes.

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The US presidential election could – judging from the statements in President-elect Trump’s election campaign – have far-reaching effects also for European companies. According to the new President’s election campaign, his political priorities include, on the one hand, the dismantling of the Joint Comprehensive Deal of Action (JCPOA) with Iran which he has called a “disaster” and, on the other hand, a substantial increase of tariffs on imports in order to promote the US economy.

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Last week the business press reported on difficulties in the planned purchase of German companies by Chinese investors. Pursuant to the reports, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy revoked the initially granted certificate of non-objection for the acquisition of Aixtron. Moreover, the Ministry apparently also denied to issue a certificate of non-objection for the acquisition of Osram’s lamp division Ledvance.

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