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In The Corner Office feature of CEE Legal Matters we ask Managing Partners at leading law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. In light of current events, the question for this online occurrence of the feature is: "How are you managing your team working remotely during this challenging period?"

Attendees to the 2019 CEELM Winter Party were cornered, over the course of the evening, and asked, without warning or an opportunity to prepare, what achievement over the past 12 months they were proudest of.

Against a backdrop of global uncertainty fuelled by Brexit, a US-China trade war, and a weakening German economy, Central and Eastern Europe has proven itself economically resilient in the face of a challenging year. Led by Hungary, Poland, and Romania – all of which reported more than 4% GDPs growth – many emerging European countries have comfortably outshone the sluggish economies of Western Europe. It is, therefore, unsurprising that foreign investors flocked to the region in 2019 in search of healthy returns.

During an address to the nation on 25 March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced anti-crisis measures to support Russian businesses and individuals and to find ways to replenish the state budget. The measures applicable to taxation are described below.

The Buzz in Bulgaria: Interview with Kostadin Sirleshtov of CMS

“The third year a Government is in power is when it usually feels the most confident to work on reforms,” says Kostadin Sirleshtov, Managing Partner at CMS in Sofia.” At the moment the Bulgarian Government is stable and active in various sectors, considering the very small possibility of a new election this year.”

If the Western Balkan countries are in your business spotlight, you must have heard about the “Little Schengen” project that was discussed between the governments of Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia, and the signing of the consequent Declaration on Establishment of Free Movement of People, Goods and Services on October 10, 2019 between the leaders of these countries (“Little Schengen Declaration”). Although it may be argued that the “Little Schengen” project comes as an answer to the fact that the “Big Schengen” is still out of the reach for these Balkan countries, closer economic cooperation between the Western Balkan countries is a trend that’s being going on for a while. In particular, four months prior to the signing of the Little Schengen Declaration, North Macedonia and Serbia signed an agreement to establish joint controls at the border crossing point of the road between North Macedonia and Serbia (the “Bilateral Agreement”).

The words which probably best describe trends in the field of logistics and transportation are “information connectivity” and “automatization.” The aim of both is the same – to increase efficiency and to achieve effective control of time, costs, quality of services, etc.  In Croatia, as elsewhere, these concepts have resulted in some new legal challenges.

The automobile part-and-component-production sector’s expansion in recent years has become a motor of the Bulgarian industry and economy. Since the Japanese company Yazaki’s investment some 15 years ago, and following Bulgaria’s EU accession in 2007 – and thanks to the common European market and the globalization of car production – Bulgarian car part manufacturers have successfully integrated into European and international supply chains as suppliers and subcontractors for global brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Nissan, Audi, Ford, Porsche, and Tesla. Nowadays, 80% of all cars have parts produced in Bulgaria. In some specific segments, Bulgarian manufacturers have become absolute market leaders - for example, 90% of the airbag sensors in all European cars are produced in Bulgaria.

Slovakia is essentially a global superpower in the per-capita production of cars, producing more new cars per capita than any other country in the world. According to statistical data from 2018, four global car manufacturers located in Slovakia – Volkswagen Slovakia, Kia Motors Slovakia, PSA Group Slovakia, and Jaguar Land Rover – produced more than a million cars. The Slovak Automotive Industry Association reports that over 1.08 million cars were manufactured in Slovakia in 2018. It will be interesting to see whether this number will be surpassed given the recent challenges and potential slowdown in the automotive industry.

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