Celebrating 20 years of international practice, our Brussels office continues the tradition of bringing excellence, creativity, and practicality to our representation of clients in Europe. The European Legal 500 recently noted our innovative approach to practice, stating that: “we single out Washington, DC regulatory heavyweight Covington & Burling, which in packaging legal advice together with strategic consultancy services is attempting to re-define what it means to be a law firm in Brussels.” Reflecting the diversity of our clients and their legal needs, our Brussels lawyers and staff include members of the Bars of various European jurisdictions as well as several US-qualified lawyers. Collectively, our lawyers and policy analysts speak most of the languages of the European Union.
Our Brussels office provides advice and representation in an extraordinary range of practice areas. Below are practice highlights for which we are seeking qualified candidates.
- Life Sciences: Our Life Sciences practice operates at a pan-European level and serves a broad range of pharmaceutical companies, trade associations, biotechnology companies, and major producers of medical devices, cosmetics, foods, food packaging, specialty chemicals, and various consumer products. The team handles policy and regulatory matters before the European Commission, the specialized EC Agencies and national regulatory authorities in the European Union. We combine strong regulatory and policy expertise with specialist knowledge in specific areas such as competition law, intellectual property, data privacy and litigation.
- European Competition: We routinely advise clients on all aspects of EU competition law including cartels, merger control, abuse of a dominant position, joint ventures, distribution arrangements, and diverse commercial transactions. Our competition team is especially strong in dealing with complex issues arising at the intersection of competition law and intellectual property law, and we have been active in litigation in which the IP/competition interface is critical. We also regularly advise clients on complex licensing and R&D arrangements as well as issues that arise in the context of industry standard-setting activities. For several clients we were instrumental in setting up their pan-European distribution or franchise system, covering aspects of competition and commercial law. We handle and coordinate multi-jurisdictional merger filings in the EU and beyond.
- Government Affairs & EU Policy: For many years, we have been one of the leading law firms in Brussels helping to ensure that industry’s voice is heard in the EU legislative process and in administrative decision making. Our capabilities in this field are greatly enhanced by our senior European Policy Advisor, Wim van Velzen, who served with distinction for over a decade in the European Parliament, where he was Vice President of the European People’s Party, the largest political grouping in Parliament, and Ambassador Jean De Ruyt, who served as Permanent Representative of Belgium to the European Union and as chair of the Committee of Permanent Representatives during the 2010 Belgian Presidency of the Council. We have been active in dozens of legislative campaigns, often involving cutting edge proposals affecting such matters as the regulation of electronic commerce, software patents, online advertising, data protection, animal testing of cosmetics, electronic waste take back rules, product liability, chemicals regulation (REACH), noise emission levels, advanced therapies, and numerous other measures affecting the life sciences and information technology industries. Our services include legislative analysis, mobilizing coalitions, advocacy, strategic advice, and legislative and administrative procedural expertise. We also have particular experience in developing outreach efforts in relation to Commission competition law investigations.
- EU Litigation: Another distinctive strength is our expertise in litigation before the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, where we have been involved in some seventy cases in recent years. Our clients include the Council of the European Union, Microsoft, Merck, ScheringPlough, Qualcomm, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, and the Association of Corporate Counsel Europe. Frequently, these matters have involved novel legal questions of both substance and procedure, including the first ever challenge by a third party to a Community marketing authorization of a pharmaceutical product, the scope of legal privilege enjoyed by in house counsel, the enforcement of procedural rights, and access to documents.
- International Trade: We regularly advise international and European clients on a wide range of EU trade policy issues, including issues arising out of the WTO. We have particular experience and expertise in trade litigation, having represented the Council of the EU for many years in anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities and the European Court of Justice. Our trade remedies practice focuses on the representation of European Industry as complainants in Commission proceedings. In addition, we advise clients on a broad range of customs and export control matters and represent them before the national authorities of the Members States, the Commission, and national and EU courts.
- Transatlantic Policy: We are extremely well positioned to assist clients on complex legal and policy issues with a strong transatlantic dimension. Stuart Eizenstat, widely regarded as one of the most effective ambassadors ever to have represented the US before the European institutions, chairs the firm’s International Trade and Finance Group. Ambassador Eizenstat has maintained close ties with senior European policy makers. He also continues to be active in the World Economic Forum and the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, and he serves as co-chair of the European American Business Counsel. We are equally fortunate to have colleague Al Larson, former Under Secretary of State. We offer our clients a one-stop-shop for matters that require coordinated efforts on both side of the Atlantic in areas such as trade, product regulation, merger control, cartels, and export controls.