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SEPA timeline

The Single Euro Payments Area () is a European Union (EU) initiative to harmonise euro payments. Our timeline highlights the key milestones of this ongoing project. More than 520 million citizens live in SEPA and make 117 billion electronic payments every year. 

 
 

PICK A YEAR TO LEARN ABOUT MILESTONES

CLICK ALONG THE TIMELINE TO LEARN ABOUT SEPA MILESTONES

 
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January 1999:

Introduction of the euro in eleven EU countries.

All EU Member States form part of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which can be described as an advanced stage of economic integration based on a single market. It involves close coordination of economic and fiscal policies and, for those countries fulfilling certain conditions, a single monetary policy and a single currency – the euro. The goal of achieving the EMU including a single currency was enshrined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union), which sets out the ground rules for its introduction. When the euro is launched on 1 January 1999, it becomes the new official currency of eleven EU Member States: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland.

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September 1999:

European Central Bank (ECB) states: “Indeed, the single currency environment argues strongly in favour of a single payment area.”

The ECB comments: “Despite the introduction of the euro, however, there is still a clear gap between the service levels of domestic and cross-border retail payment systems (...). Indeed, the single currency environment argues strongly in favour of a single payment area.”

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September 1999:

ECB publishes the report Improving cross-border retail payment services – the Eurosystem’s view.

In this report, the ECB states: “Citizens and businesses alike can only benefit fully from the principles of the free movement of goods, services, capital and people if they are able to transfer money as rapidly, reliably and cheaply from one part of the European Union to another as is now the case within each Member State. The introduction of the euro should provide an important contribution to the completion of the Single Market. (...) The Eurosystem intends to become a catalyst for change, initiating regular discussions with the banking and payment service industry in order to facilitate the achievement of euro area agreements which will improve the environment for retail cross-border payments, in particular in the field of standardisation.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

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