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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

European Union: Commission Adopts Rules on Operating Drones

(June 14, 2019) On May 24, 2019, the European Commission adopted an implementing regulation that regulates the operation of commercial and recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), commonly referred to as drones. Among other things, the implementing regulation requires operational authorizations and registration of UASs and their operators. (Commission Implementing Regulation on the Rules and Procedures for the Operation of Unmanned Aircraft (Implementing Regulation), 2019 O.J. (L 152) 45; Press Release, European Commission, European Commission Adopts Rules on Operating Drones (May 24, 2019), European Commission website.) The rules are directly applicable in the European Union (EU) Member States and will replace existing national rules. Member States may enact national rules for operating drones for subjects falling outside the scope of the Implementing Regulation, such as public security or protection of privacy and personal data. (Implementing Regulation recital 18.) The rules will apply from 2020. (Id. art. 23.)

Authorization and Certification of Drone Operations

The Implementing Regulation divides drone operations into the following three categories: open, specific, or certified. (Implementing Regulation art. 3.) Depending on the category, drone operators require an operational authorization or certification from the national authorities. No authorization is required for the open category, whereas the specific category requires an operational authorization. Drone operations that fall in the certified category require the certification of the drone, the certification of the operator and, where applicable, the licensing of the remote pilot. (Id.)

Drone operations are classified as “open” where, the following requirements, among others, are met:

  • the UAS has a maximum take-off mass of less than 25 kg (about 55 pounds)
  • the remote pilot ensures that the UAS is kept at a safe distance from people and is not flown over assemblies of people
  • the remote pilot keeps the UAS in visual line of sight operation at all times
  • the UAS is kept within 120 meters (about 394 feet) from the closest point of the surface of the earth
  • the UAS does not carry dangerous goods and does not drop any material (Id. art. 4.)

If one of those requirements is not met, the drone operation is qualified as specific and requires an operational authorization. The operator must submit a risk assessment together with the application. The authorization will be granted when the authorities are convinced that the risk of operation can be mitigated. An authorization is not required if the drone is operated in the framework of a model aircraft club or association that has received an authorization. (Id. arts. 5, 16.)

Drone operations are classified as certified when they are certified in accordance with specific enumerated standards outlined in EU law and the operation involves

  • operation over assemblies of people;
  • transport of people; or
  • carriage of dangerous goods that may result in high risk for third parties in case of accident.

Furthermore, the certified category also applies to drone operations where the national authority considers that the risk cannot be adequately mitigated without certification of the drone and the operator, and the licensing of the remote pilot. (Id. art. 6.)

Registration

Member States are also required to maintain a registration system for drones and operators. (Id. art. 14, para. 1.) Operators in the open category must register when operating

Operators of drones within the specific category must register all drones notwithstanding the mass. (Implementing Regulation art. 14, para. 5.)

No-Fly Zones

National authorities may also designate certain “UAS geographical zones” in which the operation of drones is restricted or excluded (“no-fly zones”). These UAS geographical zones can be established for safety, security, privacy, or environmental reasons. (Id. art. 15.)

Age Restrictions

Children under 16 years of age may not operate drones that fall into the open or specific category. (Id. art. 9, para. 1.) Member States may lower the minimum age by four years for the open category and by two years for the specific category. (Id. art. 9, para. 3.) There is no age requirement for toy drones within the meaning of the EU Toy Safety Directive, for privately built UASs with a maximum take-off mass of less than 250g (about 551 pounds), or when the children operate the drone under the direct supervision of a remote pilot who is over 16 and complies with the competency rules for remote pilots as specified in article 8. (Id. art. 9, para. 2.)

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Sweden: District Court Says Issuing Detention Order for Assange Not Proportional

(June 14, 2019) On June 3, 2019, Uppsala District Court issued a judgment denying a request to issue a detention order for Julian Assange. (Uppsala Tingsraett [Uppsala District Court], Case No. B 3167-19 (June 4, 2019) (in Swedish), on file with author; see also Press Release, Uppsala District Court, Decision Concerning an Application for a Detention Order in Case B 3167-19 (June 3, 2019), Uppsala District Court website (in Swedish).)

Under Swedish law a person may be detained during the investigation stage if there is probable cause that he or she has committed a crime punishable by one year of imprisonment and if there is a risk that the person will “fail to appear or in some other way avoid participation in the investigation and the following proceedings.” (24 kap. 1 § RAETTEGAANGSBALK [RB] [CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE] (SFS 1942:740), Riksdagen [Parliament] website (all translations by author).) As Assange has previously evaded questioning in Sweden, the Court found that there was indeed such a risk. (Id.)

The Court relied on the analysis and considerations made by the Swedish Supreme Court in its 2015 decision to continue the pretrial detention of Assange. (Hoegsta Domstolen [Supreme Court] Case No. OE 5880.14 of May 11, 2015, Hoegsta Domstolen website (in Swedish); see also Elin Hofverberg, Sweden: Supreme Court Affirms Pre-Trial Detention of Julian Assange, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 15, 2015).)

The Swedish Supreme Court in 2015 found that two conditions were necessary to make the arrest proportional:

  1. The arrest must enable the investigation to proceed.
  2. No less invasive measures that could yield the same result are available.

Court Evaluation

Applying the test of whether there are any less invasive measures, the Court found that because Assange is currently under arrest in London, Swedish prosecutors could ask for a European Investigation Order that could allow them to question Assange to proceed with the investigation. (Case No. B 3167-19.)

Arguably, a European Investigation Order works as an alternative to a European Arrest Warrant and enables a number of investigative tools without an arrest warrant. (Directive 2014/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 Regarding the European Investigation Order in Criminal Matters, 2014 O.J. (L 130) 1.) For example, article 23 of the EU Directive Regarding the European Investigation Order in Criminal Matters specifically allows for the transfer of an incarcerated person to another requesting EU country (except Denmark and Ireland). Sweden has transposed the Directive through the Act on European Investigation Order and could request a transfer as part of the investigation order. (12 § LAG OM EN EUROPEISK UTREDNINGSORDER (SFS 2017:1000), Riksdagen website.)

Thus, according to the Court, unless the Swedish prosecutors are unable to obtain a European Investigation Order, or if the investigation order does not enable the prosecutor to complete its investigation, the principle of using the least invasive coercive measure prevents the Court from issuing an arrest warrant for Assange. (Case No. B 3167-19.)

The Swedish Court decision may be appealed no later than June 24, 2019. (Id.)

The current case against Assange, rape, is subject to a ten-year statute of limitations that will run unless charges are brought before August 2020. (35 kap. 1 § 3 RB.)

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Denmark: Copenhagen Limits Number of Electric Scooters on Its Streets

(June 13, 2019) On June 3, 2019, the Technical and Environmental Committee for the Municipality of Copenhagen decided to cap the number of electric scooters and electric bicycles available on the streets of certain areas of Copenhagen. The decision provides that only 200 e-scooters and 200 rental e-bikes may be placed in the most crowded areas of the city, such as large commercial streets and outside train and metro stations. In the rest of the city—areas that are less crowded—3,000 e-scooters and 3,000 e-bikes will be allowed. How Copenhagen City is planning to distribute the number of electric vehicle slots among competing companies is not clear, but the companies will be required to apply for one-year permits to put their vehicles on the streets. (Press Release, Koebenhavns Kommune [Copenhagen Municipality], Loft over elloebehjul i Koebenhavn [Cap on Electric Scooters in Copenhagen] (June 4, 2019), Copenhagen Municipality website.)

Driving e-scooters in bike lanes has been legal in Denmark since January 1, 2019. (Press Release, Transport-, Bygnings- og Boligministeriet [Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing], Bred enighed om nye forsoegsordninger for små motoriserede koeretoejer [Consensus on New Trials for Small Motorized Vehicles] (Dec. 6, 2018), Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing website.)

The use of e-scooters is regulated by a number of requirements, which include not driving them faster than 20 kmh (about 12 mph) and drivers being at least 15 years old and following traffic rules. (Id.)

Concerning the municipality’s decision, the acting chair for the Technical and Environmental Committee, Karina Vestergaard Madsen, declared that

[t]here should be no doubt that the majority in the Danish Parliament has created a problem for Copenhagen by allowing electric scooters without giving us any tools to regulate them and [thereby] escape the chaos that other cities are experiencing already. Therefore, the Committee’s proposal is the art of the possible, and we must ask the Danish Parliament to create a better legal framework in cooperation with the municipalities. (Loft over elloebehjul i Koebenhavn, supra (translation by author).)

Representatives from electric scooter companies have complained that they were not involved in the Committee’s decision process. (Koebenhavns Kommune saetter graenser for elloebehjul i gaderne, DR (June 3, 2019).)

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Italy: Legislation on Economic Growth Enters into Force

(June 12, 2019) On May 1, 2019, a new decree-law with several measures intended to encourage economic growth entered into force in Italy. (Decree-Law No. 34 of April 30, 2019, Urgent Measures for Economic Growth and for the Resolution of Crisis Situations), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE [G.U., OFFICIAL GAZETTE], Apr. 30, 2019, G.U. website (in Italian).)

New Tax Provisions

The new legislation contains multiple provisions on complex tax matters that include, among other things, an amortization surcharge for new capital goods (id. art. 1(1)), deductions on corporate income (id. art. 2(1)) and municipal tax from income tax (id. art. 3(1)), and adjustments to the patent box corporate tax regime (id. art. 4(1)).

Taxation of Income Obtained Overseas by Italians

The Decree-Law includes provisions that impose taxation on Italians for income obtained overseas, which are meant to address the problem of “brain drain,” and are called “return of the brains” (rientro dei cervelli) provisions. (Id. art. 5(1).) Additionally, income from independent work and from autonomous work produced by workers who have transferred their residence back to Italy is considered as taxable income provided certain additional criteria are met. (Id.)

Tax Incentives for Reconstruction Efforts

The legislation establishes new tax incentives to stimulate reconstruction efforts in areas devastated by earthquakes, including the establishment of an earthquake (sisma) bonus. (Id. arts. 7(1), 8(1) & 10(1).)

Reporting and Collection of Taxes for Online Operations

Decree-Law No. 34 imposes tax reporting and collection responsibilities according to procedures established by the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle entrate) on those who, through the use of electronic interfaces, including virtual markets, platforms, or similar methods, facilitate sales at a distance of imported goods or goods inside the EU. (Id. art. 13(1).)

Guarantees for the Development of Medium-Size Enterprises

The Law allocates extra funds to the Guarantee Fund for Medium-Sized Enterprises, to be granted in accordance with the criteria and modalities established by the Ministry of Economic Development. (Id. art. 17(1).) It also approves similar measures to benefit other small and medium-sized enterprises (piccola e media impresa, PMI) (id. art. 18(1)) and allocates additional funds for the First-Home Guarantee Fund (id. art. 19(1)).

Financial Incentives Throughout the National Territory

The Decree-Law provides for new funds for cities around the country to finance energy efficiency projects and sustainable territorial development. (Id. art. 30(1).)

Historic Brands

The Law protects historic brands (marchi storici) by stating that holders of company brands that are registered in the country for at least 50 years and in continual use, and are connected to a national manufacturing company known for its excellence, are to enjoy additional copyright and other protective measures over their historic brands. (Id. art. 31(1).)

Financial Recovery Measures for Regions

The Law approves new measures for the economic recovery of the regions (id. art. 33(1)), in addition to plans for important investments in special economic zones (id. art. 34(1)).

Peoples’ Bank and the Savers’ Indemnification Fund

The Decree-Law includes several amendments to the Peoples’ Bank and the Savers’ Indemnification Fund, particularly concerning persons entitled to inherit funds belonging to a deceased saver. (Id. art. 36(2)(a).)

Debts of Local Entities

The legislation transfers to the metropolitan city of Capital Rome (Roma Capitale) the existing credits currently under the responsibility of the Management Commission (Gestione Commissariale) to determine the viability of their recovery. (Id. art. 38(1)(b)–(c).)

Areas of Complex Industrial Crises

The Law creates salary substitution measures to assist workers whose employment has ended during the time frames established therein. (Id. art. 41(1).)

Simplification in the Management of Third-Sector Entities

The new Law approves measures aimed at simplifying the administration of nongovernmental organizations called “third-sector” entities, particularly their registration with procurement agencies. (Id. art. 43(3)(a).) (For background see Dante Figueroa, Italy: Code to Regulate Nongovernmental Organizations, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 4, 2017).)

Additional Technical Professionals for Public Works 

In order to facilitate more efficient development of public works throughout the country, Decree-Law No. 34 authorizes the hiring of 100 specialized, highly professional staff, including engineers, architects, geologists, and administrative personnel. (Id. art. 47(1).)

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Qatar: Draft Law to Enhance Real Estate Sector Approved

(June 12, 2019) On May 30, 2019, the cabinet of the State of Qatar approved a draft law on real estate development to strengthen the real estate market. (Cabinet Approves Draft Law on Regulating Real Estate Development, THE PENINSULA (May 30, 2019).) The draft law amends Law No. 6 of 2014, which regulates the granting of licenses and permits to commercial and residential real estate developers. (Law No. 6 of 2014 Regulating Real Estate Development, AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], vol. 6, 11 Mar. 2014), State of Qatar legal portal (in Arabic).)

Previous Measures to Enhance Qatari Real Estate Market

  1. March 2019 Cabinet Resolution

The May 2019 draft law is among a number of measures adopted by the Qatari government to “improve transparency, ownership regulations and overall participation” in the country’s real estate market. (Sachin Kumar, Property Ownership Law a Big Boost for Real Estate Sector, THE PENINSULA (Mar. 19, 2019).) In March 2019, for example, the Qatari cabinet issued a resolution to encourage foreigners to purchase and own real estate properties for residential and commercial purposes. The resolution identifies ten locations where foreign nationals are allowed to own real estate properties. It also mentions sixteen locations where foreign nationals may purchase real estate to enjoy the right of usufruct without owning the property. The resolution applies to residential units, such as villas and apartments, as well as to commercial units, such as stores in commercial malls. (Qatari Cabinet Approves Ownership of Real Estate by Foreigners, AL-QUDS AL-ARABI (Mar. 13, 2019) (in Arabic).)

  1. Law No. 16 of 2018 Regulating the Ownership and Use of Real Estate by Foreigners

In November 2018, the Amir of Qatar signed Law No. 16 of 2018, which allows foreign nationals to purchase and own real estate in the country. The Law also establishes the Commission on Non-Qatari Real Estate Ownership. The Commission’s main task is to designate locations and areas where foreign nationals may own and purchase real properties. (Law No. 16 of 2018, AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH, vol. 7, 19 Nov. 2018, State of Qatar legal portal (in Arabic).)

Reactions to Government Policies to Improve Real Estate Markets

The real estate market in Qatar has reportedly progressed due to the recent legal measures adopted by the government, which are expected to attract long-term capital to the real estate sector. (Kumar, supra.)

Pawel Banach, general manager of ValuStrat Qatar, a real estate development company, views the government’s measures as “contribut[ing] to a positive transformation of the real estate sector[,] which will now embrace its cultural diversity through new initiatives designed to encourage investments and positively change business perspectives to ultimately result in overall economic growth.” (Id.) Banach also believes that “[a]llowing outright foreign ownership within existing residential locations will help non-Qataris to make more informed decisions [on] whether they desire to invest in property or purchase [it] for [their] own occupation.” (Id.)

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