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The Bundestag adopted the revised version of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act today. Following the revision of the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, which took place on 3 June 2020, this legislative change is a second important step to strengthen German law on investment screening. The revised rules are intended to make sure that Germany remains an attractive place to invest, whilst at the same time providing more effective protection to German and European security interests in the case of acquisitions of critical companies.

Said Federal Minister Altmaier: “Our revision of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act aims to protect our security interests more effectively and to make our screening more transparent. Germany is and remains open to investment, but we need to be able to take a closer look in cases which affect national and European security interests. At the same time, we are increasing the level of transparency and making procedural deadlines clearer and more transparent, in order to give the business community greater legal clarity.”

The aim of the amendment is, in tandem with the revisions to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, to make the German investment screening system more effective and resilient. In future, screening will depend on whether an acquisition results in a “likely impairment” of public order or security. In addition to the effects of an acquisition in Germany, the screening will also focus more on effects on other EU Member States and on EU programmes and projects.

The coordinated cooperation of the EU Member States and the European Commission envisaged in the EU Screening Regulation, and the related European exchange of information about corporate acquisitions, ensure better protection against critical take-overs. The new version of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act establishes the German contact body for this cooperation mechanism in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

New statutory rules on deadlines take account of the companies’ interest in predictable and swift procedures. Acquisitions should be reviewed as quickly as possible and within clearly defined deadlines. The amending legislation which has been adopted by the Bundestag is now being forwarded to the Bundesrat, and the final debate on it is to take place there as soon as possible.