Category: European law

Keep the Flag Flying for Montenegro Airlines

Montenegro Airlines has been struggling with financial difficulties for some time. Last year, before the COVID-19 crisis, the Montenegrin Government committed EUR 150 million to Montenegro Airlines over a six-year period, including EUR 66 million this year. However, the situation took a turn for the worse. The predicted consequences of COVID-19 came true with travel restrictions across Europe and a dismal summer tourist season. Montenegro Airlines’ revenue slid 80% during the first seven months of 2020 compared to 2019. Namely, the airline generated EUR 30 million in revenue during the first half of 2019, but the figure fell to a […]

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12 Jun, 2020
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New Reckoning by the EU Commission with the Lifting of Travel Restrictions

In case you are planning a trip to any of the EU countries, we have news for you. On June 11, 2020, European Commission (“Commission”) published a Communication on the third assessment of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU strongly encouraging the remaining Member States (those which have not lifted the ban yet) to lift the internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU by June 15, 2020.  This is the third sequel of the Commission’s prolongation of travel restrictions into the EU+ area for travelers coming from third countries, however, […]

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25 May, 2020
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Airlines Serving Sardinia Challenged the European Commission’s Decision Declaring Illegal State Aid … And They Lost

On May 13, 2020, the General Court of the European Union (“Court”) dismissed the actions brought by airlines easyJet, Volotea and Germanwings, who sought the annulment of the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision declaring illegal the aid granted by Italy to airlines serving Sardinia. The Court dismissed the airlines’ arguments relating to the absence of distortion of competition and of effect on trade between Member States.  In that regard, the Court explained that a national measure can be declared as State aid if such an aid is liable to affect trade and distort competition, without the necessity of establishing that such […]

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19 May, 2020
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Requests to Change the Temporary Framework Have Just Arrived

Not so long ago, a trade association that represents private equity funds and the world’s largest association of private capital providers, Invest Europe (link), asked the European Commission (“Commission“) to make some tweaks.  Namely, Invest Europe requested that Commission make changes to eligibility criteria for companies that wish to receive aid so as to avoid the exclusion of private equity-backed undertakings.  More precisely, their wish was for the Commission to change how it defines “undertakings in difficulty” in its Temporary Framework so that only certain criteria instead of an entire definition apply to private equity-backed undertakings.  Just a reminder, the […]

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Second Amendment Adopted While Maintaining the Level Playing Field in the EU

Having recognized that the EU economy is, in its entirety, experiencing a serious downturn, the European Commission (“Commission”) saw it necessary to adopt a new State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak on March 19, 2020 (our article available here) (“TF”).  The TF helps target support for the economy while limiting negative consequences to the level playing field in the EU’s single market.  The first amendment to the TF was introduced on April 3, 2020 by which the Commission extended the TF to enable Member States to accelerate research, testing and production […]

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EDPB Addresses the Protection of Health Data

Keeping in mind that the development of new and more detailed guidance for the processing of health data is part of the annual work plan of the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB“), for now, the EDPB has adopted Guidelines 03/2020 on the processing of data concerning health for the purpose of scientific research in the context of COVID-19 outbreak (“Guidelines“) on April 21, 2020 with the aim of safeguarding everyone’s right to the protection of personal data in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic. Due to the pandemic, there are many scientific research efforts being conducted to fight against […]

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EU+Travel Restrictions in Force for Another 30 Days

During the past month, the EU+ area saw a continuous rise in the number of new cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has worsened since March 16, 2020 when the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council on a ‘Temporary Restriction on Non-Essential Travel to the EU’ (“Communication”) was adopted, as we informed you (here).  The 30-day ban, temporarily restricting all non-essential travel from third countries to the EU, is to expire in just a few days, considering that all Member States (including the Schengen Associated […]

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With Pro-competitiveness to Victory

Even in these trying times, competitiveness must be preserved. That being so, the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) has set up a webpage “antitrust rules and coronavirus” outlining policies and antitrust measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak (available here).  The European Commission is eagerly offering guidance to companies and lawyers on acceptable cooperation during the pandemic, mindful not to infringe existing antitrust regulations.  To that end, companies and lawyers are being allowed to design temporary cooperation arrangements (which might not be permissible in normal circumstances), primarily through fast-track co-operation mechanisms to tackle the pandemic, all with the overriding […]

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Keeping the European Businesses Liquid

The European Commission (“Commission”) published a statement on March 27, 2020 (available here), wherein it proposed an extension of State aid Temporary Framework (“Temporary Framework” – available here) that was adopted on March 19, 2020 with the aim of supporting European economies in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.  On a similar note, the changes introduced by the new State aid Temporary Framework were addressed in one of our recent articles (available here). The Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager has emphasized the importance of coordinated action and in that sense called for Member States to provide support for companies in these […]

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Serbia Unleashes Unprecedented EUR 5.1 Billion Aid Package

On March 31, 2020, the Serbian Government adopted a €5.1 billion program of support measures for the economy (the Serbian Program).  According to the Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, who announced the measures earlier in the day “[the Serbian Program] is equivalent to half of the State budget and 11% of national GDP”. What makes it a legal rarity is that this is a precedent of ‘Covid-19 EU Association State aid’.  In other words, this is the first case of Covid-19 related measures and aid being introduced in an EU association country based on Article 107(b) and (c) of the […]

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The EC Never Rests: Here Comes the Notification Template

After adopting the Communication on the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the current COVID-19 outbreak (“TF”) (available here), the European Commission (“EC”) published the Notification Template (available here) on March 24, 2020, and invited Member States to provide their notifications.   Notification of each Member State shall, first of all, include general information i.e. description of the serious disturbance in the economy and the official reaction of its authorities.  By requiring this information and data, the EC aims to clarify specificities of the current situation in each country.  Countries shall also provide a general […]

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The EU Approves Six New Support Schemes under the New Temporary Framework

The European Commission (“Commission”) promptly approved six new State aid schemes under the Temporary Legal Framework  in order to support companies affected by this unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19 outbreak. In these circumstances, Margarete Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of Competition policy in the EU Commission, emphasized: “The economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is severe. Together with the Member States, we are working to manage this impact as much as we can. And we need to act in a coordinated manner, to help Europe’s economy weather this storm and bounce back strongly afterwards. “   United Kingdom The UK announced two […]

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EU Approves German State Aid Package under the New Temporary Framework

The European Commission (“Commission”) approved the second State Aid Measure under the New Temporary Framework, as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  COVID-19 crisis is delivering a “major shock” to EU economies and, as Von der Layen previously promised, the Commission will give a leg up to the Member States to weather the storm.  In that regard, on March 22, 2020, the Commission promptly cleared, within 48 hours of the application being submitted, a State aid package by German Government, implemented through the German promotional bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (“KfW”). Not to be found wanting, the German government has gone […]

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EU Approves French Support Schemes under the New Temporary Framework

Having adopted the Temporary Legal Framework to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission has cleared the first State aid schemes under the Framework. France was first to receive approval for three schemes notified under the Temporary Framework.  “These [State aid schemes] are expected to mobilise €300 billion of liquidity support for companies affected by this unprecedented situation”, said Executive Vice President in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager. Envisaged as a tool to ensure liquidity, the aid will be available under favorable conditions and limited to those who need it most in the current circumstances.  Covering guarantees […]

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20 Mar, 2020
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COVID-19: EU Amends Regulation on Medical Equipment Export Controls: EFTA out, Western Balkans still in?

As announced (see above tweet thread here) by Commission trade head, Phil Hogan, the EU already amended its Regulation so as to exclude EFTA and a number of other countries.  However, EU enlargement countries, including EU candidate countries, such as Serbia and Montenegro, continue to be subject to extraordinary export controls for basic equipment necessary to combat the COVID-19 outbreak (press release available here). On March 15, 2020, European Commission approved a Regulation on the export authorization requirement for exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) outside of the European Union (available here). Adopted by urgency procedure, and followed by the Guidance […]

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EU Introduces State Aid Lex Specialis: Direct Applicability to EU Association Countries?

Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak adopted with immediate effect (available here). Earlier this evening, March 19, 2020, the European Commission adopted special State aid legislation, in the word of EU’s competition head, Margrethe Vestager, with the aim “to act fast to manage the [COVID 19 economic] impact as much as we can”, which “enables Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy at this difficult time” [emphasis added] (video available here). The new Temporary Framework is based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on […]

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Applying for State Aid in the Time of the COVID-19 pandemic

There are no two ways about it – the COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on the way businesses apply for State aid. In that regard, and as a part of the overall response to the negative economic effects of the outbreak, the European Commission (“Commission”) issued the Notification under Article 107(2)(b) TFEU (“Notification”). Fresh out of the Commission’s headquarters, the Notification provides detailed information on the content of State aid notifications under Article 107 (2) b to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The article in question enables Member States to provide aid for companies affected by […]

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COVID-19 Couldn’t Care Less About GDPR

As a general state of emergency envelopes the world, and everything in it, one aspect worth looking at in light of the COVID-19 outbreak is the dynamic between a person’s medical information and their personal data protection rights.  When declaring Covid-19 as a pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) director general pleaded to all countries to “find, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact”.  Indeed, every day in almost every country around the world, a significant number of people are sent for testing, quarantined, and questioned about who they have come into contact with, all with the aim […]

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Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Merger Control and Restrictive Agreements

While Europe is facing the second week of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, it is, by now, clear that no aspect of business operations will remain unaffected.  In light of the current situation, the European Commission (“Commission”) proclaimed that merger notifications will be subject to a special regime.  While DG COMP endeavors to ensure business continuity in the enforcement of the EU Merger Regulation, it, however, advises companies to postpone merger notifications, wherever possible[1].  Present circumstances make merger transactions, and closing thereof, significantly more complicated.  Due to the present working conditions, the Commission also announced that it temporarily […]

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COVID-19: Compare multiple jurisdictions across the globe with TerraLex

We are pleased to share the TerraLex Coronavirus Business Response Resource Center with you. It is a compilation of business solution resources from TerraLex members, some of the finest and best ranked firms, from around the globe relevant to contracts, labor, business continuity, etc. TerraLex and its members understand that in the rapidly evolving challenges posed by coronavirus and the prospect of recessionary times ahead, businesses are struggling with a variety of issues and looking to their trusted advisors for help. This Resource Center functions just like our cross-border guides. Visitors can select specific topics of interest and specific jurisdictions […]

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EU Imposes Travel Ban & What Happens to International Trade?

On March 17, 2020, the European Council endorsed a 30-day travel ban to the EU together with a whole range of other boarder management measures.   EU Member States commenced with their implementation later that evening. The adopted travel restrictions are initially set to last for 30 days but may be prolonged if necessary.   It is noteworthy that not only Member States but also the four associated countries within the Schengen zone (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) agreed to the travel ban. The adopted Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services […]

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Energy Community Shifts to Remote Working Mode

As the COVID-19 virus spreads worldwide and with Europe currently considered to be the hotbed of the pandemic, an increasing number of institutions are opting for remote work as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. In this regard, the Energy Community has imposed temporary measures to limit access to its premises to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Namely, the Energy Community Secretariat will be closed to the public until March 27, 2020 at the earliest.  Therefore, all hearings will be de facto postponed. Furthermore, events scheduled for March and April will mostly be held online […]

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Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak: State aid Measures

Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak: State aid Measures Not only is the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe an unprecedented health emergency, but it is also being greeted with widespread consternation by the global and European economy. Weathering the storm at global, European and national level requires a coordinated policy response that should support citizens, companies and economies. On March 13, 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) set out a European coordinated response to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The response includes a set of measures pertaining to State aid framework, fiscal policy, health policy etc. […]

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COVID-19 Outbreak: Does the Public Procurement Mechanism Apply?

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is obvious that certain exemptions from the general principles under public procurement regulations, in both the EU and Serbia, are to be triggered.  In this regard, the relevant derogations laid out in the EU acquis and the Serbian Public Procurement Act[1] (“PPA”), as well as the new Public Procurement Act[2] (“New PPA”), call for closer examination. EU framework EU Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement (“PP Directive”), prescribes that contracting authorities may award public contracts by a negotiated procedure without prior publication in case of extreme urgency.  This exemption is applicable only if it […]

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