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Important Notice to all SEPA Stakeholders: the European Commission Will Assume SEPA Scheme Management Viewed 4980 times

17-11-2011 By Javier Santamaría, Chair of the EPC SEPA Payment Schemes Working Group

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) payment scheme rulebooks for SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD), developed by the EPC - at the request of European authorities - are key to making SEPA a reality.

The rulebooks can be regarded as instruction manuals, which provide a common understanding on how to move funds between bank accounts within SEPA. The annual EPC scheme change management process provides all stakeholders with the opportunity to introduce suggestions for changes to the schemes. Proposed amends are subject to a three-month public consultation. Change requests that find broad acceptance from the entire user community are then taken forward, while requests that lack support are not. The EPC published updated versions of the SCT and SDD Rulebooks on 17 November 2011, which will take effect in November 2012 (see links below). In accordance with industry best practice, all stakeholders and their suppliers have a one year lead time to address rulebook updates prior to such updates taking effect. The EPC scheme change management ensures participation of and planning security for all market participants.

It remains the EPC's objective to ensure that the SEPA Rulebooks evolve in response to proven market needs, based on a predictable release schedule. The EPC must, however, clarify that it can no longer be held accountable in this regard.

The European Union (EU) legislator will shortly adopt the ‘Regulation Establishing Technical Requirements for Credit Transfers and Direct Debits in Euros' (the SEPA Regulation). The technical requirements set out in the annex to the SEPA Regulation will be applicable to Union-wide euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes; i.e. the SCT and SDD Schemes. The SEPA Regulation will also give power to the European Commission to amend the technical requirements at its sole discretion. Moving forward, the EPC will be under the legal obligation to align the SCT and SDD Rulebooks with the technical requirements as amended by the European Commission and according to the timelines mandated by the European Commission.

The European Commission is under no obligation to consider the requirements of payment service users as identified through public SEPA-wide consultations or as reflected in valid statistical data provided, for example, by the European Central Bank. The legislative process leading to the imminent adoption of the SEPA Regulation clearly demonstrates that the European Commission reserves the right to redefine the SEPA Schemes based on its own assessments. The EU legislator fully endorses this concept.

The European Commission and the EU legislator however, place great reliance on the advice of Brussels-based lobbying organisations, which speak on behalf of the demand side. The safest bet now for bank customers seeking to channel their requirements into the SEPA Schemes is therefore to lobby their European lobbying group.

All market participants obliged to adapt systems and operations with the technical requirements applicable to the SCT and SDD Schemes decreed by the European Commission, would greatly appreciate it if the regulators were able to make specific information on the principles and timelines governing the further evolution of the schemes available. To-date, both the legislator and the European Commission remain silent on the matter. Surely, some sort of plan is in place?

For more information, please refer to the following links:

EPC Newsletter: Brave New World: the European Commission Becomes the SEPA Scheme Manager

EPC Newsletter: SEPA Scheme Rulebooks: Next Edition Available in November 2011!

SCT Rulebook Version 6.0, SDD Core Rulebook Version 6.0, SDD B2B Rulebook Version 4.0 and Stakeholder Feedback on EPC 2011 Public Consultation on the Evolution of the SEPA Schemes

EPC SCT / SDD Rulebook Release Management and Scheme Development (Subject to Interventions by the European Commission)

PSPs which participate in the SCT and SDD Schemes are reminded that the rulebook versions and adjacent implementation guidelines which were published in November 2010 take effect on 19 November 2011!

SCT Rulebook Version 5.1

SDD Core Rulebook Version 5.1

SDD B2B Rulebook Version 3.1


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