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On 20 July 2023, the Austrian National Council passed a significant increase in penalties for the violation of business and trade secrets. This was necessary due to a significant increase in secrecy violations.
Business and trade secrets are information of high commercial value. Therefore, business and trade secrets are usually protected by comprehensive confidentiality agreements.

On 22 March 2023, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims.
The proposal aims to harmonize the evaluation and monitoring of voluntary environmental claims – often referred to as “green claims” – towards EU consumers and control the proliferation of public and private environmental labels. Complementing the March 2022 proposal for a Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition as a lex specialis by providing more specific requirements on the substantiation, communication and verification of green claims, it contributes to the fight against “greenwashing”.

On 1 February 2023, the Austrian National Council passed the so-called Whistleblower Protection Act (HinweisgeberInnenschutzgesetz). This law regulates a set of obligations for companies in relation to whistleblowing, with the setup of an internal “whistle-blowing system” a priority. This new law will come into force shortly — following a formal confirmation by the Federal Council of Austria, which is still pending. The Austrian legislator is finally implementing the requirements of the EU Whistleblower Directive, although with a delay of more than a year.

Through the EU Directive on Restructuring and Insolvency of 20 June 2019 (EUR 2019/1023, “Directive”), the European Union has imposed an obligation on its member states to offer a more attractive and flexible restructuring scheme in their respective local law. The initial deadline to do so had been 17 July 2021. Only a handful of countries (most notably Germany and The Netherlands) had implemented the Directive within the initial deadline, whilst the other countries made use of the possibility to ask for a one year extension.

In our hybrid kick-off event of the newly founded – VUJ Expert Group on Data Protection Law on the topic “The “End” for International Data Transfers? Recent developments and practical advice” , shed light on the following topics:
• International data transfers in transition
• Google analytics and the international consequences
• Approaches and alternatives for practice

Just and sustainable economy: Commission lays down rules for companies to respect human rights and environment in global value chains
On 23 February 2022 the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. The proposal aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. They will be required to identify and, where necessary, prevent, end or mitigate adverse impacts of their activities on human rights, such as child labour and exploitation of workers, and on the environment, for example pollution and biodiversity loss.

At the request of the Single Resolution Board (SRB) SBERBANK Europe AG, domiciled in Vienna, was placed under a moratorium by the Austrian Regulator, FMA, on 27 February 2022. Despite measures SBERBANK took to stem the outflow of funds the SRB decision finds it is likely to be unable to meet its payment obligations at maturity. SRB also held that current and future sanctions – US sanctions limiting access to USD supply by correspondent banks only take effect on 26 March 2022 – make it unlikely that SBERBANK’s liquidity situation will quickly recover. The FMA implemented the SRB’s decision of 27 February 2022 (SRB EES-2022-16), as per the provisions of the Austrian Act on Restructuring and Liquidation of banks (BaSAG) and Art 29 SRM Regulation.