News | 2019

I. Alber & Geiger recognised by The Lawyer European Awards 2019

Alber & Geiger has been shortlisted in two categories by the prestigious The Lawyer European Awards 2019, namely: Law Firm of the Year Benelux and the European Energy and Infrastructure Deal of the Year.

We are among the leading law firms in the exceptionally competitive Benelux category, particularly due to strategic detail, client satisfaction and outright quality. We were also highly commended for our niche – government relations law firm – with focus on lobbying before the EU institutions and Member States governments.

The Alber & Geiger team is also proud to have been recognised for its achievement in the field of EU energy and infrastructure, especially for helping clients overcome EU regulatory hurdles in relation to competition and energy policy.

II. EU to review rules on food contact materials

The European Commission has recently launched a public consultation to gather views on the current performance of the Food Contact Materials (FCM) legislation. This review will affect, among others, packaging and professional food manufacturing, preparation, storage and distribution. The results will feed then into the evaluation of the current legislative framework of FCM rules.

Currently, common EU rules on Food Contact Materials cover the safety of FCMs as well as labelling and traceability. More concretely, they limit their transfer into food in quantities that could endanger human health or change the composition of the food. Existing common rules help ensure not only a high level of protection of human health, but also a common level playing field.

Considering that this will be the first evaluation of the rules, all companies in the food contact material supply chain as well as firms that have articles that might come into contact with food in the future, should submit their views before 6 May 2019.

III. EU to draw list of key energy projects

The European Commission has launched a public consultation for drawing the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI). Once identified and selected as PCI, these projects will benefit from faster permitting, lower costs and potentially even funding.

As a first step, projects for electricity, gas, smart grids, oil and CO2 networks need to be submitted. Next, they need to be identified as candidate for PCI. Then, there is the selection process. Several criteria need to be fulfilled. The project must contribute to energy market integration, boost competition, create security of supply and must be sustainable.

So far, three EU wide PCI lists have been completed. This is the forth call for PCI, which should be ready by the end of 2019. Companies and associations should promote their projects until 20 May 2019.

IV. EU to assess design protection

 The European Commission has initiated a public consultation to collect stakeholders’ evidence on the legal protection of design in the EU. The objective of this process is to evaluate if existing rules are still fit for purpose. The result may feed into an impact assessment and possible amendment to the current legislation.

There are currently two set of legislations that regulate design protection in the EU. The Design Directive deals with the legal protection of designs. The Community Design Regulation focuses on community design. Both are vital for design protection and encourage innovation and development.

Due to this important role, the European Commission is considering the need for improvements modernisation and deeper harmonisation at the EU level. Industry, business and individuals should participate in the call that will stay open till the end of March 2019.

V. EU third country blacklist

In February 2019, the European Commission came up with a proposal to include all countries that are not doing enough to fight money laundering and terrorism financing on a blacklist. This is the first time the European Commission has embarked on such initiative.

The decision requires EU banks to carry out detailed customer vetting. More specifically, all EU banks that handle payments connected to the blacklisted countries would have to conduct enhanced due diligence on any money moving to or from the jurisdiction on the blacklist. Also, EU banks would be obliged to act on suspicion by staying away from questionable transactions and reporting to the authorities.

The EU blacklist list is a living document. Countries can come clean if they improve their legislation and fulfil European standards. Other countries can be added to the list if the review of their respective legislation show deficiencies.

VI. EU to examine feed additives

The European Commission has issued a public consultation to evaluate legislation on additives for use on animal nutrition. The review will cover substances, microorganisms or preparations added to feed to influence the feed or have an effect in the animal.

Currently, only additives that have been through an authorisation may be placed in the market and used. The review will cover the procedure for authorising feed additives. Similarly, the evaluation will deal with the rules for the placing in the market, labelling and use of additives. At the same time, the evaluation will cover all categories of additives. It will assess preservatives, antioxidants and stabilising agents. On top, it will deal with flavourings and colorants. Nutritional additives such as vitamins, minerals and aminoacids will also be evaluated.

Companies and business organisations that will be affected by the review and possible amendments to the regulation should put forward their views before 3 April 2019.