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The Debrief: August 2023

The Debrief: August 2023

The Debrief
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In The Debrief, our Practice Leaders across CEE share updates on recent and upcoming legislation, consider the impact of recent court decisions, showcase landmark projects, and keep our readers apprised of the latest developments impacting their respective practice areas.

This House – Implemented Legislation

July was a busy month in Poland as some employment and life sciences legislation took effect. “As of July 1, 2023, the state of epidemic emergency has been lifted in the territory of Poland,” Wolf Theiss Counsel Agnieszka Nowak-Blaszczak says. According to her, “the lifting of the state of epidemic emergency affects the legality of the stay in Poland of those third-country foreigners whose validity of the legal title to stay and work” in the country has been extended under the COVID-19 crisis-related act – the so-called “Anti-Crisis Act.”

“Pursuant to the Anti-Crisis Act, the legal stay of foreigners on the basis of, in particular, a Schengen visa or a national visa or a temporary residence permit, the validity of which would expire during the state of epidemic emergency or a state of the epidemic, was extended until the expiry of 30 days from the day on which the state of epidemic emergency or state of the epidemic was canceled, regardless of which of these states was in force last,” she notes. “The same rule also applies to the validity of work permits, seasonal work permits, and declarations of entrustment of work to a foreigner whose validity ended during the state of epidemic or state of epidemic emergency. All these documents have been extended until July 31, 2023.” As a result, “employers should review the documents allowing third-country foreigners to stay and work in Poland,” she says, adding that the foreigners concerned must submit their applications for new documents by the end of July 2023.

Additionally, NGL Legal Junior Associate Paulina Roslon-Horosz highlights that a new regime for medical device advertising is coming into effect in Poland. “Due to the end of the transition period, all advertisements, starting from July 1, 2023, must comply with the requirements set forth in the Polish Medical Devices Act of April 7, 2022, and the Regulation of the Minister of Health of April 21, 2023, on advertising of medical devices,” she notes. “Furthermore,” she adds, “from July 1, 2023, the manufacturers of custom-made devices, authorized representatives of a manufacturer of custom-made devices who are not residents or established in a member state, and importers of custom-made devices are obliged to submit an application for registration of their activities to the President of the Department of Registration of Medicinal Products before placing the device on the market. This obligation applies to entities with residence or seats in the territory of Poland.”

This House – The Latest Draft

According to Roslon-Horosz, a revision of the reimbursement act in Poland is also currently underway. “In June 2023 a new version of the draft act on amendments to the act on reimbursement of medicinal products, foodstuffs for special dietary purposes and medical devices, and certain other acts were passed to the Parliament,” she reports, adding that “currently, the draft act includes, among other things, changes to the reimbursement procedure, adopting amendments to wholesale and pharmacy margins, the possibility of reimbursing OTC medicines, amendments to pricing, including a mandatory reduction in the price of innovative medicine, and new obligations of recipients of reimbursement decisions to ensure the supply of adequate quantities of medicines.”

The Verdict

Albota Law Firm Senior Associate Mihai Macovei highlights the Bucharest Tribunal’s recent ruling concerning real estate issues. “On June 7, 2023, the Bucharest Tribunal canceled the 2nd District coordinating Zonal Urban Plan (PUZ) and suspended the PUZ until the final resolution of the case before the courts,” he notes. “According to the claimants – the USR Save Romania Union party – the PUZ issued in August 2020 by the former administration reduced the green areas of the district by allowing building on tens of hectares of such areas, including parks, lake shores, sports grounds, etc.”

According to Macovei, “the new administration in Bucharest seems determined to remove all coordinating PUZs issued by the former administration: at the beginning of 2021, the new administration issued a decision suspending for one year all the PUZs issued for districts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The suspension was followed by various suspensions and cancellations of the PUZ ordered by the courts, including the 2nd District PUZ.” However, he reports that “in March 2023, the case concerning the 2nd District PUZ was rejected by the court in the first instance, meaning that the PUZ was once again effective,” adding that “until the latest suspension of the PUZ, the 2nd District City Hall issued a number of building permits based on the PUZ in question.” According to Macovei, “the 2nd District Mayor argues that the applications for building permits were complete and there was no legal justification to refuse to issue the building permits.”

In the Works

July 2023, according to CMS Sofia Managing Partner Kostadin Sirleshtov, was an intensive month for the Bulgarian energy sector with a particular focus on renewables. “Global Biomet – one of the largest renewable energy investors with ten operational photovoltaic plants – successfully licensed its 100-megawatt AC Aratiden project with the Bulgarian Energy and Water Regulatory Commission,” Sirleshtov points out. “Furthermore, the largest photovoltaic project in Bulgaria to date (Verila 123-megawatt peak) was put in operation by a joint venture between local investors S Solar and CZG. This project entered into the biggest corporate power purchase agreement in the Bulgarian renewable energy sector to date with Yettel and Cetin.” Additionally, “on June 15, 2023, Westinghouse Electric and Nuclear Power Plant Kozloduy signed a Front-End Engineering & Design agreement for a new reactor using AP1000 technology for Bulgaria,” Sirleshtov points out. “This marks yet another attempt to build a new nuclear reactor in Bulgaria following the shut-down of Units 1-4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, which was completed in 2007.”

Done Deals

Throughout June and July, the M&A market in Serbia has experienced substantial activity, with the IT and real estate sectors being in the spotlight. “For instance, the US venture capital fund TinySeed recently invested in Novi Sad-based start-up Plainly, a video automation software developer,” Radovanovic Stojanovic & Partners Partner Sasa Stojanovic reports. “Regarding real estate, family-owned real estate development company Soravia Group sold the Radisson Collection Hotel Old Mill Belgrade to regional real estate project developer Delta Real Estate Group in June.” Stojanovic further points out that the consolidation trend in the pharma sector is continuing and suggests that the industry will likely see more developments in the near future.

Regulators Weigh In

Lastly, Sirleshtov draws attention to the recent decision of the Bulgarian regulator: “At the end of June 2023, the Bulgarian Energy and Water Regulatory Commission set up the new reference price for those renewable energy projects, which are supported under the Contracts for Guarantees scheme. Many of the investors (both local and international) challenged the levels of the reference price adopted by the Regulator before the Bulgarian administrative courts.”

This article was originally published in Issue 10.7 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.