Brussels Briefing – Europe Braces For New Fiscal Battles


♦ Brussels Briefing ♦


Stock Market NewsStock Market Today


The EU’s fiscal rules are widely disliked given their impenetrable and convoluted nature — yet it is difficult to avoid setting off political landmines somewhere in the union when any change to them is mooted.

In early February, the commission will tread delicately back into the debate with an overdue report on the so-called six-pack and two-pack legislative packages, which overhauled the fiscal rules during the euro crisis.

Officials don’t expect the report to set china rattling in embassy parlours when it is released in Brussels on February 5; it is being couched as a retrospective look at the operation of the rules in recent years, rather than an opportunity to table reform proposals.

But a public consultation on possible future changes is also being planned — and the commissioner in charge of EU economic policy, Paolo Gentiloni, has been making no secret of his desire to shake the regime up. Meetings of finance ministers in Brussels early this week could provide early hints of the new battles ahead.

Mr Gentiloni has described the Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the fiscal regime, as out of date and in need of a serious overhaul, given the current low growth and inflation era. On the Italian social democrat’s reform wishlist will be changes making the rules more symmetrical — allowing for countries to be pushed to boost their economies via fiscal policy in downturns, rather than just reining in deficits and debt.

This, however, would be anathema to fiscally conservative states in northern Europe. Mr Gentiloni also has to contend with Valdis Dombrovskis, the commission executive vice-president who oversees economic and financial matters — and who is stricter on fiscal policy.

Reform-minded officials will therefore also need to find less politically incendiary changes to the rulebook.

One idea is to give countries extra scope to borrow to fund green investment. The potential reform — achievable through tweaks to internal commission rules — has already run up against opposition from conservative northern European states. Mr Gentiloni is hoping the urgency of the green agenda could improve its chances.

The commission will also look at ways to simplify the rules. One option, for example, might be to place a greater emphasis on concrete measures such as public expenditure, and less on difficult-to-measure concepts such as the structural deficit.

The structural deficit is impenetrable to the public, and the cause of frequent squabbles among economists — not to mention member states. It also draws on data that can be subject to major subsequent revisions. The advisory European Fiscal Board suggested an alternative framework last September.

Any attempt to simplify the rules will also be seized upon by the duelling camps, however. Some will want to use any reform opportunity to loosen the regime. Others will wish to use the greater clarity to make the deficit rules even tighter.

Insecure and gig economy work is driving the rise of new forms of employee organisation, especially among migrant and young workers. The structures are developing to meet demand from workplaces with few protections — and in the process, they are leaving established unions struggling to protect their turf.

Libya pledge… Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other foreign powers have promised to end all interference in the armed conflict in Libya, as part of a German-brokered effort to halt rising violence and chaos in the north African country and prepare the ground for a UN-sponsored peace process. The promise was contained in a document agreed by world leaders at a conference in Berlin on Sunday. However, there were already signs of fresh military escalation in the civil war-wracked state.

Javid’s joust
UK Chancellor Sajid Javid’s pledge to diverge from EU rules after Brexit has sparked warnings from bloc officials and diplomats of an economically damaging split at the end of this year. As one official put it: “The main conclusion for the real economy is: prepare for the worst. Anything agreed will be a bonus.” (FT)

Borrell broadside
Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has used an interview with Der Spiegel to renew his critique of how the EU makes foreign policy. He revives the idea of abandoning the principle of unanimity in decision-making. (Der Spiegel)

Air battle
Poland’s new finance minister wants US home rental site Airbnb to pay tax on the revenues it earns in the central European country, in the latest intervention by a senior European politician in the debate on how to tax digital companies. (FT)

Alpine austerity
As the World Economic Forum prepares to kick off its 50th annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Tuesday, the FT reports on the elite gathering’s efforts to appear more environmentally-friendly. Among other things, it is encouraging participants to take trains instead of private jets, and is providing shoe grips to cajole attendees to “walk the snowy promenade between meetings rather than take cars”.

The effort to be sustainable extends to advising caterers not to serve luxuries such as foie gras and caviar, and one day of the meeting has been set aside for “vegetarian menus and the discovery of alternative protein sources”. This year’s events — including the launch of an initiative to plant 1tn trees in the next decade — will take place in rooms decorated with seaweed-based paint and carpets made from “end-of life fishing nets”. The scores of companies hosting their own events have been asked to consider offering local wines and “mountain herbal infusions” instead of imported drinks.

Brussels diary
It’s a busy day on Monday with meetings of both foreign ministers, where the Sahel and Libya crises will loom large, and of euro area finance and economy ministers.




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Plus500 is an international financial firm providing online trading services in contracts for difference (CFDs), across more than 2,000 securities and multiple asset classes. The company is headquartered in Israel and has subsidiaries in UK, Cyprus, Australia, Singapore and Bulgaria.

Plus500 is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the ticker “PLUS” and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


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Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions but without offering many extra services. Plus500 has been in the forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the U.K. and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indexes, equities, commoditiescryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 is the first broker to introduce a bitcoin CFD in 2013. The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades.

All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platformPlus500 Ltd. (PLUS.L) is a publicly traded company on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange since 2013 with a £1.73 billion ($2.25 billion) market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world. Plus500 offers access to more than 2,000 trading instruments.


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Trust … the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), CySEC, ASIC, FSCA, FMA, MAS, and the ISA, which provides good accountability and visibility. The company is required to take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds – ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that Plus500 becomes insolvent – by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks.

If Plus500 defaults, any shortfall of funds of up to £50,000 may be compensated for under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the custodian bank holding client funds goes into liquidation, any shortfall of funds of up to £85,000 may be compensated for under the FSCS.


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Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account. Guaranteed stop losses can be used on some instruments depending on market conditions but they are subject to a wider spread.

The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platform. Large volume traders do not get a trading discount at Plus500 and the spread is the same whether you trade one lot or 1,000 lots.


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There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. However, inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as £100.

Traders can qualify for a “professional” account, which offers a higher level of maximum leverage, but the costs are the same. Investors with a professional account may increase their maximum leverage ten-fold, from 1:30 to 1:300.Spreads at Plus500 were some of the lowest in the market.

Plus500 also offers access to options trading on many markets. These are very similar to plain call and put options traded on exchanges, but they are not standardized which means that the option premium can be customized for your risk tolerance and strategy objectives.


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Plus500 Deposits and Withdrawals

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⇑⇓ History of Plus500 ⇓⇑


Plus500 is an international financial firm providing online trading services in contracts for difference (CFDs), across more than 2,000 securities and multiple asset classes. The company is headquartered in Israel and has subsidiaries in UK, Cyprus, Australia, Singapore and Bulgaria.

Plus500 is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the ticker “PLUS” and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.




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History: Plus500 Headquarters in Haifa, Israel. The company was founded in 2008 by six alumni of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology: Gal Haber, Alon Gonen, Elad Ben-Izhak, Shlomi Weizmann, Omer Elazari and Shimon Sofer), with an initial investment of $400,000 contributed by Gonen.

The initial platform was based on a Windows OS. In 2010, Plus500 launched a web based version of its online trading platform, allowing Mac and Linux users to trade online. In 2011, they launched their first app for iPad and iPhone users. In 2012, Plus500 introduced its Android-based trading platform for Android smartphones and tablets.

In 2014, the company launched its Windows app. In 2016, the Israeli operating subsidiary of company, Plus500IL Ltd was one of a small number of companies to be granted a Trading Arena Licence by the Israeli Security Authority (ISA). In that same year, Plus500 released an app for Apple Watch to trade and view account details directly from Apple’s wearable.

In early December 2017, Plus500SG Pte Ltd, the Singapore subsidiary of Plus500, was granted a Capital Markets Services license by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for dealing in securities and leveraged foreign exchange trading.

In June 2018, Plus500 launched its Economic Calendar, covering major financial events and indicators from all over the world, which are provided by Dow Jones & Company, a subsidiary of News Corp. Plus500’s calendar includes a list of the most highly-affected instruments for each economic event.

In July 2018, shares of Plus500 were listed in the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

Operations… Plus500 trading apps are supported in 32 languages, including English, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Estonian, Russian, Romanian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.[18] It has been reported that 40% of the transactions were made by either Smartphones or tablets.[2]

In December 2017, European and UK announced details of planned restrictions on the spreadbetting and CFD sectors. Plus500 CEO Asaf Elimelech said “the board believes the proposals are unlikely to have a material adverse effect on the group’s business, thanks to its highly flexible business model”.




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