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The European Union is on the verge of adopting the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) following a vote in the European Parliament on 10 November 2022. Compared to its predecessor, the CSRD expands the scope of companies required to disclose more detailed information regarding the impact of their activities on sustainability matters in their management report. The goal of the CSRD is to provide more transparency to the public on companies’ sustainability motives and efforts and to help investors and other stakeholders evaluate the non-financial performance of companies.

At COP 27 in November 2022, South Africa launched its new Just Energy Transition Investment Plan and announced a five-year investment plan for the USD 8.5 billion financing package, which was announced as part of the country’s Just Energy Transition Partnership with France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union at COP 26. The JET IP is aligned with the Cabinet-approved National Just Transition Framework and outlines the investments required to achieve the country’s decarbonization commitments, while promoting sustainable development, and ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities.

In October 2022, the Council of the EU published the long-awaited compromise text of the proposed Regulation on Markets in Cryptoassets (MiCA), a “landmark regulation” that, according to the Council, will “put an end to the crypto wild west”. Once in force, MiCA will establish the first comprehensive, pan-EU regulatory regime for the regulation of cryptoassets, including the regulation of (i) cryptoassets issuance activities and (ii) cryptoasset service providers (who will be held to similar regulatory standards to those imposed on investment firms).

On 25 May 2018, the Council of the European Union adopted a directive on the mandatory disclosure and exchange of cross-border tax arrangements. This is the sixth update of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation, therefore referred to as ‘DAC6’ and the disclosure regime is now live.
Under the new rules, intermediaries such as lawyers, tax advisors, and accountants that design, promote or implement certain ‘arrangements’, or that provide advice in relation to such arrangements, are required to report them to tax authorities.

Regulators and courts in common law jurisdictions around the world are being given significant and increasing powers to impose financial penalties without traditional criminal law safeguards. Competition law has been particularly susceptible to arguments that traditional safeguards should be discarded to aid regulators in securing convictions. In the first competition case to go to trial in Hong Kong, the Competition Tribunal held in 2019 that in competition proceedings seeking financial penalties, the authority had the burden to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. This article considers the approach taken in other common law jurisdictions and scope to argue for increased safeguards and human rights protections for clients facing financial penalties.

In a draft compromise text obtained by Politico, the European Council has dropped a key provision seeking to harmonize telemedicine from the draft European Health Data Space. The (now-removed) Article 8 was aimed at encouraging the cross-border provision of telemedicine services across the EU. However, the reality is that there are vast national differences between Member States on telemedicine-related laws. It is going to require a far more concerted legislative effort to harmonize this area of law across the EU.

On Monday 31 October 2022 the European Commission published the updated Combined Nomenclature (CN) for 2023. The declaration of goods upon import, export, or when subject to intra-Community trade statistics between EU Member States is based on the CN. This sets the customs duty rate that is applicable as well as determines how the products are handled for statistical purposes. Thus, the CN is an essential working instrument for industry and the customs departments of the EU Member States.

On 4 October 2022, the Council of the European Union definitively approved the Digital Services Act, maintaining unchanged the content proposed by the European Parliament. On 5 July 2022, the European Parliament also approved the articles of the Digital Market Act still pending a final vote in the Council. The Digital Market Act and the Digital Services Act regulate the legal status of providers of intermediary services (e.g., online platforms such as marketplaces, search engines, social networks, hosting services, etc.) and thus also affect other actors (users and businesses of all sizes) interacting through their services.

The European Union made the decision to establish a single window for customs (or its official designation: “EU Single Window Environment for Customs”) in order to facilitate international trade, speed up the customs clearance process, and lower the likelihood of fraud. On 24 October 2022, the Council of the European Union enacted a new regulation that establishes the necessary framework for digital cooperation between customs and associated competent authorities.

The EU has politically agreed on the adoption of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, and will likely adopt it before the end of 2022. The CSRD will overhaul the current sustainability reporting landscape for all multinational companies with significant activities in the EU, including those headquartered outside the EU. The reporting obligations of the CSRD will progressively come into force between 2024 and 2028.