2018 EU Trade, Regulatory and Competition Trends

Introduction

Our “trends for 2018” are only a selection of interesting developments to watch for in 2018.

Within the political and legislative cycle of the European Union, 2018 promises to be an eventful year, given that it is the last full year before the 2019 EU elections when a new European Commission will be appointed and the European Parliament will hold new elections. This means, in practice, that there will be pressure in 2018 on the current European Commission and European Parliament to act on all their initiatives and to complete their legislative agenda.

Our team of EU lawyers will continue to report on noteworthy developments including for instance, Brexit and its implications for competition and regulatory policies, the surge in foreign direct investment controls, the opening of new competition enforcement fronts, the practical implementation of the EU damages directive, as well as the development of alternative means of resolution in competition investigations and their impact on rights of defence.

We invite you to contact us directly should you have an interest in discussing any topic further or in obtaining additional information. We hope you will enjoy the read! Continue Reading

Could the Crypto-Rouble Spell Crypto-Trouble for Sanctions?

Russian President Vladmir Putin has directed his government to develop a state-backed cryptocurrency, according to a Financial Times report published on January 2nd. A Putin advisor says that the “Crypto-rouble” could be used to “settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions.” He added that Russia’s cryptocurrency would be “the same rouble, but its circulation would be restricted in a certain way.”

There’s a lot to unpack there. Broadly, establishing a cryptocurrency that the Kremlin can track defeats two of the main purposes of cryptocurrency: to provide anonymity and to remove government central banks from transactions. Continue Reading

Seeking foreign investors for your tech startup? Congress says, “not so fast.”

The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would tap the brakes on foreign direct investment in the United States, particularly on investments in sensitive industries like artificial intelligence, robotics, and semiconductors. We know: you’re saying we already have that in the form of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known as CFIUS). Continue Reading

In-fo’ a CFIUS Review: The Expanding Power of CFIUS through Data Security Scrutiny

CFIUS is expanding its reach. Where the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has generally scrutinized foreign acquisition of U.S. “critical infrastructure,” it has now signaled that it may look closely at any deal where the target collects or maintains sensitive personal information. Continue Reading

Confused by the Evolving Travel Ban? Here’s a Cheat Sheet with the Latest Guidance

While the Travel Ban continues to move up and down the federal court system, here are the latest rules governing travel for citizens of the affected countries as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s lifting of the lower courts’ injunctions on December 4, 2017, a December 22 ruling by the Ninth Circuit invalidating the latest travel ban but not enjoining it, and recent action by a Federal District Court in Seattle partially lifting the refugee ban on December 23, 2017: Continue Reading

The Waiting Game: When, Why, and How to File with CFIUS in a New Era of Investment Scrutiny

The other day I spoke to a colleague at the U.S. Department of the Treasury who works in the Office of Investment Security and said, “I heard CFIUS filings were going to break last year’s record total.” He just laughed. He said the OIS received one hundred and seventy-some filings in 2016, the most they had ever received in a year.

This year, only in November, they were over 225 submissions!

Of course, all of this was just talk and should not be relied on for statistical analysis. But it gives you a good idea of the flood of CFIUS filings that the Committee is now tasked with reviewing. While my contact was sanguine on the possibility of adding some new folks soon to his office soon, he noted that the OIS staff – whom he called the best of the best – has not yet been increased to meet the surge in demand.

So what does this mean for your inbound investment into the United States? We explore that question and provide a few tips below. In addition to a present snapshot of CFIUS, we have a look at the future of CFIUS as a proposed Senate bill aims to increase scrutiny on foreign investment. Continue Reading

The Future of CFIUS: Perhaps Not So Happy a New Year

‘Tis the season to wonder, what will 2018 bring? We may speculate on things like a private company making a moon landing or a peace accord with North Korea. We may be certain of things like well-intentioned gym memberships and a host of new-you products.

Somewhere between speculation and certainty we find the U.S. Government’s scrutiny of foreign direct investment in the United States. The recently proposed Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reform introduced in Congress sheds some light on the future of CFIUS reviews. Continue Reading

CFIUS for Europe? New Screening of Foreign Direct Investments in Europe

On September 13, 2017, the EU Commission released a proposed regulation establishing a framework for screening Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Europe. Several EU Member States have already implemented national mechanisms enabling them to intervene in transactions that the States believe endanger their national interest. However, there is no harmonized regime for reviewing FDI into the EU other than the EU Merger Regulation (EUMR). The EUMR focuses only on competition and does not take into account security or public order concerns. This new proposal addresses the more political notion of “national security”. Continue Reading

FARA and the First Amendment: How will the United States Calibrate its Response to Foreign Propaganda?

Remember how we talked about bipartisan legislation introduced in March 2017 (which seems like a million years ago) to investigate the Russian media outlet RT for spreading propaganda without registering as a foreign agent? Since then, you might have seen (including in our blog, here) the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) starting to rise from obscurity. Continue Reading

Retrenchment on Cuban Sanctions; The Search for a Middle Ground

The Trump Administration has made good on its promise to cut back on the liberalized Cuban policy implemented by the Obama Administration with a new regime that introduces new travel restrictions as well as broad prohibitions on “direct financial transactions” between persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and parties on a new Cuban Restricted List (CRL) that has been published by the State Department. Continue Reading

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