The Covid-19 pandemic is causing far-reaching changes in every area of life and business. Almost all companies and industries are affected and the legal situation changes almost daily in some areas. The European Competition Network (ECN) emphasized in a recent joint statement that the current competition rules are flexible enough to adapt to changing economic situations and need no substantial modification. This briefing provides an overview on how the Corona crisis affects competition law – and what remains unchanged – and where to find further information (see the links throughout the document). BLOMSTEIN will closely monitor and inform about further developments. If you have any questions, Anna Huttenlauch and Max Klasse will be happy to assist you at any time.

BLOMSTEIN Corona and Competition Law (31.03.2020)

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27 March 2020
The current Covid 19 pandemic has long since developed into an economic crisis, the full impact of which cannot yet be predicted. The crisis also affects those companies that are active in so-called systemically important areas and whose commitment is particularly important for the protection of public health. In the opinion of the EU Commission, it is therefore particularly important to prevent a “sell-out” of companies and technologies that are critical and key to the health sector.

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The outbreak of the coronavirus in Germany has a direct impact on the operational export control of companies. While some export control departments are no longer able to work at full capacity and also the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle – BAFA) had to significantly reduce its services, such as its telephone hotlines, the risk of procurement efforts by unintended recipients of goods and technology is increasing.

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On 13 February 2020 the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law (SIL) Anti-Corruption Committee and the ABA Public Contract Law Section (PCLS) Suspension and Debarment Committee offer a dial-in conference call. The committees come together for an informal lunchtime session to discuss recent developments in international debarment.

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Roland M. Stein, Pascal Friton and Hans-Joachim Prieß have been recognised as leading experts in public procurement law in the Who’s Who Legal: Government Contracts edition once again. Furthermore, Roland M. Stein and Pascal Friton are listed as Global Elite Thought Leaders. They are hereby the only German lawyers featured in this list.

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On 29 November 2019, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier presented the final version of his “Industrial Strategy 2030”. In the strategy, the Ministry announces a practically relevant amendment to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (FTPO). At the press conference on the strategy, Mr Altmaier indicated that manufacturers of “critical technologies” may also be included in the list of particularly security-relevant companies. The background to this development is the concern about the sale of high technology to China and other countries classified as critical.

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On 28 March 2019, the European Court of Justice annulled the Commission’s decision that the German law on renewable energy (EEG 2012) involved State aid.

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On 30 July 2019, the European Commission published the EU Guidance on Internal Compliance Programme (ICP) for dual-use trade controls, which directly addresses companies involved in the trade of dual-use items. With these legally non-binding guidelines, the Commission has formulated certain expectations on corporations when it comes to their internal compliance programme for trade control regulations.

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BLOMSTEIN is proud to be shortlisted in the category Law Firm of the Year for Competition Law for the 2019 JUVE Awards.

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Margrethe Vestager, EU commissioner for competition policy, recently issued a stern public warning to car manufacturers. The European Commission is currently investigating the companies for their role in Germany’s infamous car emissions scandal. Businesses that intend to cooperate in the area of cybersecurity would do well to reflect on the commissioner’s warning as well. Cars and IT? At first glance, few parallels come to mind between the traditional automotive sector and the relatively new field of cybersecurity. Yet both areas face disruptive technological challenges that companies can only overcome together. The cautionary tale of the German carmakers offers vital antitrust lessons for technical cooperation far beyond the confines of the automotive industry.

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