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Competition law reform in Albania is underway, marked by several important changes to Law no. 9121, dated 28.07.2003, “On Protection of Competition” (“Competition Law”). Within the context of harmonizing with the EU acquis, last November, the Albanian Competition Authority (“ACA”) launched a public consultation phase for the proposed amendments to the Competition Law (“Draft Law”). However, the final version of the Draft Law has not yet been submitted to Parliament.

The Law no. 55/2015 “For strategic investments in the Republic of Albania”, determines the procedures and rules applied by state bodies for the examination, approval, and support by the Albanian government of strategic investments in Albania, both domestic and foreign. The deadline for obtaining ‘Strategic Investment’ status, after being postponed several times, expired on 31 December 2023, however now a new amendment pending approval by the parliament, aims – among other things – to extend the benefits of the law until 31 December 2027.

Under the Serbian Law on Foreign Exchange Operations and its accompanying bylaws, Serbian residents have various reporting obligations towards the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS”), which is competent for controlling foreign exchange (“FX”) operations of residents and non-residents. It is not rare in practice that companies operating in Serbia are not aware of (all) such obligations, especially in the cases of first-time entrance to the market, which exposes them to potential liability for FX misdemeanours. The controls in this area are common while identified irregularities are followed by misdemeanour proceedings.

Albania has officially implemented law no. 29/2023, dated 30.03.2023 “On Income Tax”, effective starting from 1 January 2024; repealing and replacing law no. 8438, dated 28.12.1998 “On Income Tax”, as amended. Despite successive amendments over the years, law no. 8438 is deemed outdated and inadequate in addressing the contemporary principles and methodologies associated with personal income tax and corporate income tax (the “New Income Tax Law”).

Did you know that, using the Activity Rankings function of the CEELMDirect website, you can look up the 2023 deal leaderboards in each CEE market, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia?

Effective enforcement of competition rules in the AI world is on the horizon. Competition regulators around the world are closely monitoring the advancement of AI and the competitive landscape across various facets of AI.

In a recent update to the VAT Act in Slovenia, notable amendments have been introduced, particularly focusing on services in the public interest. Article 42(1)(5) of the VAT Act has changed, emphasizing VAT exemptions exclusively for services provided within activities deemed in the public interest.

Milos Vuckovic has been appointed as the new Managing Partner of Karanovic & Partners, taking over from Darko Jovanovic who has been leading the firm for the past two years. Milos Jakovljevic has been promoted to Senior Partner. Additionally, the firm announced that Senior Partner Marjan Poljak will assist Vuckovic in his new role.

Kinstellar has advised Evelixon Trading Limited on its acquisition of the Grand Wind Park project company from Windvision Serbia Holding and the subsequent sale of a 50% stake in Grand Wind Park to MK Green Energy Limited. Karanovic & Partners advised Windvision. AP Legal advised MK Green Energy.

By its decision dated 29 December 2023, the Serbian Competition Commission determined that the companies KTG Solucije and Eco Sense from the town of Subotica (in Serbia) entered into a restrictive agreement by colluding in public procurement procedures (i.e., bid rigging).

On 28 December 2023, the Agency for the Protection of Competition of Montenegro (the “Agency”) adopted a decision regarding its finding that the pricelist adopted by the Association of Tourist Agencies of Montenegro (the “Association”) concerning services provided by the tourist agencies amounts to a restrictive agreement by object under the Montenegrin Competition Law.

Albania is currently contemplating the revision of its existing legislation on industrial property currently regulated by one single law i.e., Law no. 9947, dated 7.7.2008 “On Industrial Property”, as amended. The existing law governs all domains of industrial property and business secrets, including patents of invention, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications.

Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, and Dentons have advised the EBRD on its agreement with Croatia’s Mplus Group regarding a EUR 60 million investment for a 28.3% stake in M Plus Croatia. Mamic Peric Reberski Rimac and White & Case advised the Mplus Group, including M Plus Croatia and its majority shareholder Meritus Ulaganja.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”) and the World Bank are among the international financial institutions spearheading a 3-billion-euro plan to wean North Macedonia off its reliance on coal. The “Just Energy Transition Investment Program” (JET-P) plan follows the footsteps of several other countries in efforts to retire coal power plants, with the joint support of the government, as well as public lenders and private investors.