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Important Notice to all SEPA Stakeholders: the European Commission Will Assume SEPA Scheme Management Viewed 6106 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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Previous entries

10.03.15EPC and Cards Stakeholders Group Release Version 7.05 of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume for Public Consultation – All Interested Parties are Invited to Provide Feedback by 5 June 2015

26.02.15SEPA Compliance in the Euro Area: Get Ready for February 2016. Act Now

10.02.15European Payments Council 2.0: the EPC Has Adapted its Structure to Further Enhance Governance and Stakeholder Involvement

26.01.15EPC Publishes the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core Rulebook Version 9.0 and SDD Business to Business Rulebook Version 7.0 to Take Effect in November 2016

12.01.15European Union Regulatory Initiatives Impacting the Security of Euro Payments: the 2015 Outlook

09.12.14Update on Work Items Addressed by the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) Chaired by the European Central Bank: SEPA Credit Transfer, SEPA Direct Debit, Instant and Mobile Payments

25.11.14EPC Publishes Updated Versions of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Rulebooks to Take Effect in November 2015

06.11.14Next Steps to Create the Digital Single Market: E-invoicing Continues to Grow Spurred on by Public Policy and the Accelerating Dynamics of E-business

23.10.14The New European Commission: a Closer Look at President Juncker’s Vision for the EU Internal Market and Economic and Monetary Union

30.09.14The New European Commission is Expected to Take Office on 1 November 2014. A Recap of the Role of the European Commission in the Evolution of SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit

18.09.14Next Steps in the Area of Online Payments: Is Europe Ready for e-Identity?

28.08.14Learn More About Work Items Related to SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit to be Addressed by the New Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) Chaired by the European Central Bank

07.08.14Summer Reading: Food for Thought on the Future of European Payments, Contributed to the EPC Newsletter by Experts Representing Various Market Segments

17.07.141 August 2014 Does Not Mark the End of the Migration Process. Get Ready for SEPA 2016. Act Now

01.07.14Participate in New EPC Poll: In Your View, Which Regulatory Initiatives Will Have the Greatest Impact on the European Payments Market Going Forward?

12.06.14PSD2: EPC Calls on EU Lawmakers to Maintain the Firewall Protecting Consumers Making Internet Payments. This Means: No Sharing of Any Personalised Security Credentials with Third Parties

19.05.14EPC Launches Three-Month Public Consultation on the Evolution of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes. All Stakeholders are Invited to Provide Feedback by 15 August 2014

06.05.14Join the Debate on the Further Evolution of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes: Less Flexibility, More Harmonisation? An Overview of the Options, Variations, Exceptions and Exemptions Possible in SEPA Today

15.04.14PSD2: The New Article 67, (‘Refunds for Payment Transactions Initiated By or Through a Payee’), Proposed by the European Commission Risks Undermining Consumer’s Unconditional Refund Right for Direct Debits Included with the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme

25.03.14PSD2: EPC Identifies Considerable Scope for Amendments of the Proposed New Set of Rules Related to the Activity of Third Party Payment Service Providers Offering Payment Initiation or Payment Account Information Services