The control of foreign investments has become increasingly important in the last few years. In Germany, the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung – AWV) has recently been amended. Moreover, for the first time, foreign investments in Germany were prohibited. In the USA, prohibitions have increasingly been issued by CFIUS and extremely long durations of proceedings are being reported. On the initiative of Germany, France and Italy, the European Commission (Commission) has now also taken up the issue: On 13 September 2017, the Commission submitted a Proposal for a Regulation Establishing a Framework for Screening of Foreign Direct Investments into the European Union (Regulation Proposal).

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At this year’s Colloquium on Suspension and Debarment, hosted by The World Bank in Washington, D.C. on 14 September 2017, recent developments in suspension and debarment issues worldwide and their various uses in the context of procurement and anti-corruption were examined.

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BLOMSTEIN is proud to be shortlisted in two out of eighteen categories for the 2017 JUVE Awards: The Start-Up of the Year (Gründerzeit-Award) and the Law Firm of the Year for Regulated Industries. The winners will be announced on 26 October 2017 at a Gala ceremony hosted by the legal publishing house JUVE at the Opera house in Frankfurt. The JUVE Awards are considered the most prestigious industry awards in the German legal market.

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The idea of a nationwide “register of corruption” which, among other things, registers white-collar crimes and respective administrative offences has haunted the German procurement law world for years. A bill bringing this idea to fruition was recently passed. The register must be established by 31 December 2020 and will replace the existing registers of some of the German federal states. Before awarding a contract, contracting authorities must consult the register and may exclude companies with a high degree of legal certainty on the basis that the company is listed on the register. Besides administering registrations, the German Federal Cartel Office as the responsible registration authority will also evaluate whether a registered company has implemented sufficient self-cleaning measures. In this case, the company will be removed from the register and be able to participate in public procurement procedures again. The implementation of this bill will have far-reaching impacts on procurement law practice in Germany.

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In light of the recent media reports on possible cartel allegations against German car manufacturers, our partner Anna Blume Huttenlauch was interviewed by Deutsche Welle on the fine line between legal cooperations among competitors and illegal collusion as well as potential fines and other liability risks for companies involved in cartels.

Link to the interview in English
Link to the entire program in English

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The failure of the Doha Round and other multilateral efforts to liberalise trade has led to international trade policy occurring mainly on a bilateral level. The EU in particular has followed an active commercial policy in recent years. The aim of the resulting so-called “new generation” Free Trade Agreements is not only to facilitate cross-border trade of products, but also to develop international supply chains, to create mechanisms for the implementation and the enforcement of the law and to open the market as a whole. Hence, Free Trade Agreements include a wide range of regulations, which go beyond classic regulations to reduce tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

The comprehensive regulatory content of bilateral trade agreements raises the question: does the EU have the competence to conclude such trade agreements? This question was the subject of the request for an opinion by the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The proceeding concerned the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore. The court published its highly anticipated opinion on 16 May 2017 (C-2/15 – the Opinion).

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

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BLOMSTEIN achieved an important success before the Higher Regional Court (HRC) Düsseldorf for the Falck-Group. On 12 June 2017, the public procurement division submitted several questions to the ECJ about the interpretation of public procurement law in order to clarify controversial and fundamental legal questions concerning the award of rescue services (Az VII Verg 34/16). The ECJ’s decision on these legal questions will significantly influence the market for rescue services. The ultimate aim is to clarify whether private service providers will have a realistic chance of fair competition concerning public procurement in this market segment in Germany.

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What can be inferred for the Facebook investigation from the report on competition and data co-published by the Bundeskartellamt?

The investigation of the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) against Facebook because of suspicions that Facebook may have abused a possibly dominant position has prompted a considerable echo, not only among antitrust lawyers. The FCO is currently investigating (i) whether Facebook may have a dominant position in the market for social networks and (ii) whether it may have abused such position with its specific terms of service on the use of user data.

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BLOMSTEIN proudly supports the Humboldt Jessup Team, which won the national finals of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Passau as well as several awards (Best Memorial Runner-up Award, Best Oralist of the championship round). We wish the best of success to Louise Majetschak, Philipp Schoenberger, Moritz Schramm and Isabel Walther for the international finals in Washington D.C. in early April 2017!

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