Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Slovak Labor Code has changed several times. In 2021, five amendments were adopted, and new changes are expected in 2022. Although we observe progressive changes, the labor code remains quite rigid. Its provisions on remote work do not distinguish between blue-collar and white-collar jobs, which makes their implementation more demanding. Remote working, constant changes to COVID-19 pandemic rules, vaccination, health and safety, data protection, and employment termination rules – these have been the most pressing issues that have led employers to turn to their legal advisors.
The Slovakian legal market has, for quite some time, been a vibrant landscape of international law firms. Given the positioning of the central European country, and the proximity of major markets such as Austria, Poland, and Ukraine, Slovakia has been able to maintain the high number of international law firms, especially relative to other CEE jurisdictions. Taking a deeper dive into the reasons behind the persistence of such a high number of major international law firms, we reached out to legal professionals who work in Slovakia to get their insights.
“The Romanian Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) forms part of an unprecedented coordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the single market,” according to the European Commission.
All the countries around the world regardless of whether they are big or small, wealthy or poor, developed or developing, are facing the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of healthcare systems, the instability of economic structures, and the vulnerability of society.
In 2021 the renewable energy market in Ukraine has been in a crisis mode compared to the booming years of 2018 and 2019. Following the legislative changes in 2020, which decreased the feed-in tariff (FiT), the market for solar projects has been very low, except for small solar projects for households and solar projects implemented by industrial consumers to produce electricity for their own use. Primarily, such industrial consumers are aiming to reduce costs for electricity and improve their market position before the introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. Notwithstanding the weakening of the market for solar projects, we have observed a steady growth of wind projects. The 2020 FiT changes have decreased the wind tariff moderately and provided a cut-off day for wind projects under the FiT on December 31, 2022. This has boosted the construction of several large wind projects in 2021 and 2022. In 2022 we anticipate commissioning of almost 1 gigawatt of wind capacity, which is much higher than in 2021.
US-based and other multinational employers with subsidiaries in Bulgaria often include their Bulgarian employees in their equity plans and grant them equity awards. Implementing an international equity plan in Bulgaria for the first time can be challenging for any multinational employer, as they should ensure compliance with Bulgarian laws and regulations. Tax compliance could raise particular concerns, as Bulgarian tax law is silent on many issues and the views of the Bulgarian tax authorities lack consistency throughout the years.
Relatively high inflation and lowering deposit interest rates became characteristic for Ukraine in recent years, thus heating investors’ demand for yields. Savings have been growing continuously, boosting the segments with a higher risk appetite and propelling the development of new investment opportunities. At the same time, the domestic financial sector is undercapitalized and has few financial instruments to offer. The market, therefore, attracts the attention of various non-resident providers of financial services – from the most diversified investment banking groups to single product enthusiasts, who are asked by Ukrainian corporations and high-net-worth individuals to offer a service or specifically target potential customers.
With the ambitious plan to create in Ukraine the most powerful IT hub in Central and Eastern Europe, the Government of Ukraine has established Diia City – a special legal framework for the IT industry, in summer 2021. Currently, the legal and organizational basis for the operation of Diia City is being developed and improved. It is expected that the project will be fully launched already in the first quarter of 2022.
With the acceleration of the process of transition to a market economy, since 2001, Serbia has carried out a fundamental reform of its tax system, which has undergone several further changes in the past two decades. Last year brought numerous changes to the tax system in Serbia, and the introduction of the taxation regime for digital assets and tax control were a particular focus.
The pioneering Austrian legislator is breaking new ground in the area of crypto taxation. Income from cryptocurrencies will no longer be taxed progressively, at up to 55% for individuals, but at a flat rate of 27.5% withholding tax. With these rules, the Austrian legislator has brought clarity to the taxation of crypto assets for the first time and has responded to the increased practical relevance of cryptocurrencies and the need to tax them in line with securities. The previous taxation of crypto assets was mainly based on non-binding information from the homepage of the Austrian Ministry of Finance.
In early 2021, Greece has introduced a new ambitious tax regime in order to motivate the opening of new employment positions and especially motivate Greeks who have moved abroad due to the severe economic crisis of 2010 to relocate back to Greece. In addition, salaried employees in the private sector, as well as average businessmen and freelancers who perform their activities in Greece while their tax residence is being registered abroad, can also benefit from the new favorable tax regime and transfer their tax residence in Greece.
Central European countries represented and continue to represent quite an attractive market for international investors, mainly due to the stable economic environment, relatively lower labor costs compared to the rest of the European regions, favorable tax environment, and the availability of tax incentives.
This year marks the start of a new era for all Ukrainian taxpayers – both corporate and individuals. Ukraine lawmakers up to – and especially in – 2021 made unprecedented efforts to implement into local law and the network of double tax treaties major recommendations and principles which went far beyond the minimum base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) action plan Ukraine committed to in 2017.
In the past twelve months, energy prices seem to have taken a life of their own. Their continued and, at times, shocking growth has raised concerns across the region and prompted differing responses and policy changes in each country. To get a more accurate picture of recent developments, we reached out to experts in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, and Turkey and asked them about the current energy prices, their impact on local economies, the drivers behind their growth, and whether any plans were in place to address the issue.