What's happening this week (04/02/19)
Tuesday, 5 February – Dutch parliament to debate gambling reform
Finalisation of the Remote Gambling Bill is expected to proceed over the coming weeks, with a debate scheduled in the Senate for 5 February. A vote should follow on 12 February.
Following the expected approval of the bill on 12 February, the timelines for implementation become somewhat less certain. The KSA has already begun preparations to start considering licence applications. This could start as soon as March, although there has been some suggestion that the regulated market will only really start to open up at the beginning of 2020. A framework for the treatment of previous bad actors is likely only to emerge in the period following the vote.
Thursday, 7 February – First BoE meeting of the year to take place in shadow of Brexit uncertainty
The first BoE meeting of the year is highly unlikely to result in any changes to Monetary Policy. While it is generally agreed that the BoE would like a further 0.25% rate hike, any such move would likely only come after Brexit uncertainty has cleared.
Market participants will also assess the BoE minutes, published shortly after the meeting, for any indication of how a crash Brexit scenario would be dealt with. There was a further indication today that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would not immediately disrupt financial services infrastructure. The FCA announced that it had completed cooperation agreements with the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), as well as with EU national regulators, to ensure that collaboration and the exchange of information will continue in a no-deal scenario
Thursday, 7 February – Romania Presidency to present compromise solutions to e-privacy regulation impasse
EU Member States have been unable to agree the parameters of an e-privacy regulation which was originally expected to apply from 25 May 2018 in line with GDPR. The delay has mostly arisen from uncertainty over the overlap of this regulation with the GDPR. The text is not clear as to the circumstances when the ePrivacy Regulation, versus the GDPR, applies to data, and when both measures would apply at the same time. On Thursday the Romanian Presidency will present compromise proposals in order to overcome the negotiating impasse. These will also attempt to address uncertainty over the extent to which ancillary services are covered by the proposal and expected to include a UK amendment on child pornography.
Meanwhile Germany’s competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) is this week expected to confirm its December 2017 preliminary findings that Facebook is using its position as the dominant social network to illegally track users across the internet.
Friday, 8 February – Fitch to review Greek debt rating after successful return to markets
On 29 January Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency issued €2.5 billion worth of 5-year debt at a yield of 3.6% - lower than initial guidance of 3.75-3.875%. Although Greece’s debt yields remain elevated compared with Eurozone peers, its ten-year debt has fallen below 4% - the lowest level since August.
Fitch is not expected to upgrade Greece from its current BB rating which is three steps below investment grade although there is some optimism that Moody's could upgrade Greek debt from B3 to B2 on 1 March.
It remains to be seen whether SYRIZA’s loss of its parliamentary majority, following the withdrawal of ANEL over the Prespes accord, will influence the ratings agencies. SYRIZA has already had to delay a very significant vote on public sector recruitment system to ensure it had the necessary support among opposition MPs.
Tsipras is now understood to be seeking to bring a number of independent MPs within the SYRIZA parliamentary group, effectively recreating a majority government. If Tsipras can successfully do this, it would firm up the shift within government toward a later general election. The two dates which are being touted for a potential later general election are 29 September or 13 October