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When Google announced its $2.1 billion merger deal with the smartwatch and fitness-tracker company Fitbit last year (“Deal”), consumer advocacy and anti-trust regulators have expressed concerns over the proposed acquisition. As a consequence, in August last year the European Commission (“EC”) opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the said merger is in line with the EU Merger Regulation.

In March 2020, the coronavirus crisis urged the Hungarian government to introduce extraordinary measures to mitigate the economic consequences. This led to a general moratorium for all retail and corporate financings until the end of 2020. As one of the last measures of 2020, the Hungarian government decided to prolong the moratorium due to the second wave of the pandemic.

Turkey and the United Kingdom (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ) (the “UK”) signed the Free Trade Agreement (the “FTA”) on December 29th, 2020 just before the UK exits European Union (the “EU”). The FTA, which came into force as of January 1st, 2021, ensures special trading terms for UK businesses, which can continue to export and import under preferential tariffs, compared with no agreement.

Since the Mining Law no. 85/2003 (“Mining Law”) entered into force on March 27, 2003, the economic and social environment in Romania has undergone a major evolution, marked by the increase of investments, especially with the accession to the European Union, in 2007. However, the legislation did not manage to keep up this fastened pace and the Romanian authorities are now trying to adjust the legal framework to the requirements of this continuously changing economic life. In this regard, after three years of debate in the Parliament, Law no. 275/2020 for amending and supplementing the Mining Law no. 85/2003 (“Law no. 275/2020”) entered into force on December 17, 2020.

On November 18, 2020, the General Court of the European Union (“General Court”) upheld the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision, in which Letuvos geležnkela AB (“Lithuanian Railway”) (“LG”) was found to have abused its dominant position in the Lithuanian rail freight market by removing a section of a railway track used by its competitors. In its appeal to the General Court, LG had requested that the Commission’s decision be annulled or in the alternative, the amount of the fine be reduced. While upholding the Commission’s decision, the General Court did reduce the amount of the fine imposed by almost a third, taking into account the duration and gravity of the infringement.

Businesses who are perpetual usufructuaries of Polish State Treasury properties may be able to apply for discounts on annual fees for 2020 to help ease the impact of the pandemic.

At the end of December 2020, the Romanian Competition Council (the "RCC") published an updated iteration of the draft Emergency Government Ordinance implementing the FDI Regulation (the "FDI Draft Law"). While the FDI Draft Law is still undergoing the legislative process, it is expected to enter into force soon. As covered here, the new rules will tighten the existing FDI screening, once in force.

Information on record-high gun-jumping fines, imposed by national competition protection authorities, flooded the law-oriented news over the past years. It seems that countries like Poland (e.g. case Gazprom), France (e.g. case SFR-Altice), the UK (e.g. case PayPal), Mexico (e.g. case BAS Projects Corporation and other companies), and even Zimbabwe (e.g. case Innscor Africa) are all following the pattern of enhanced supervision of merger notification obligation and pre-closing activities of the parties, involved in M&A, and increasing amounts of fines.

Law no. 296 of December 21, 2020 for the amendment and completion of Law no. 227/2015 regarding the Fiscal Code (the “Law no. 296/2020”) brought a series of beneficial changes to the business environment, applicable starting with January 1, 2021.

The new year ushered in a new era for drone users in Hungary. On 1 January 2021, new regulations entered into force, introducing a new framework for drone usage, although many details remain unregulated. A significant part of the drone regulations is set forth on the EU level by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/947. The new rules in Hungary promote the proper implementation of the relevant EU Regulations, and in some instances prescribe even stricter rules for drone users.

The Digital Markets Act proposal (DMA) is a collection of complex obligations imposed on certain digital service providers. We previously described the salient features of the DMA here. In this article we focus on the definition and designation of gatekeepers, the powers of the EC compared to Member States and the potential effects of the DMA initiative within CEE.

On 26 November 2020 the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs adopted the Rulebook on the unified request for approval, i.e. extension of temporary residence and issuance of a work permit to a foreigner (“Rulebook”), all in accordance with amendments to the Act on Foreigners from 2019 (“Act”).

A new Law “On State Support of Investment Projects with Significant Investments” was adopted. The Law provides for a state agency to be entrusted with the intensive supervision of particularly large investment projects in Ukraine. Earlier in 2020 President Zelenskiy somewhat mockingly referred to this agency as “investment nanny”. However, this is only a small part of the investment promotion.

The new Law on Games of Chance, applied from April 2020 did not introduce material changes to gambling business itself, apart from increased financial burden to operators (higher minimum initial capital, fees, deposits and new technical requirements) and in general the novelties have not been numerous, but it also stipulated the obligation of adoption of new harmonized rulebooks.

The Law Proposal on Preventing the Proliferation of Financing Weapons of Mass Destruction (“Proposal”) which provides several and significant amendments to the Law No. 5549 on Prevention of Laundering of Crime Revenues (“Law No. 5549”) has been accepted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and is expected to be published in the Official Gazette in the upcoming days with the law number 7262. One of the most remarkable provisions introduced within the Proposal is the amendment to the Law No. 5549 which introduces Know Your Client (KYC) requirements to independent attorneys by way of defining them as one of the “obliged parties”.

For some years now, tensions in international trade relations have become more apparent. The pandemic has also created new challenges for companies in their international supply chains. More and more companies are working to make their supply chains more robust. One way of doing this is to bring production closer to their own market, also geographically. The “Made in Europe” label is also already a positive feature among consumers, even though consumers are now looking to regional or even local production, especially for food. And even if consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for regional or local production, there are “pain thresholds” here too. Not every product is suitable for regional production. Especially in the area of labour-intensive production and low automation, Ukraine is in the spotlight as a production location.

The PSA law, despite its comparatively rare usage, complies with the best industry practices and provides the parties with enough instruments to ensure, that the signed PSA will suit their needs. At the same time, the PSA industry receives less attention from the State and, therefore, is less successful in Ukraine, especially comparing to the recent concession reform, which drew an unprecedented amount of foreign investments into Ukrainian seaport infrastructure.

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