I suppose we can all agree on this: European integration is not for the faint hearted. It requires the ability to remain focused on the long-term objectives despite the lamentations intoned by the prophets of doom who habitually predict the end of the world any time the going gets tough. A look at 2012 initiatives scheduled by the European authorities impacting euro payments, confirms that entertaining end game scenarios may produce lurid headlines, however fails to correctly interpret the signs of the times. The order of the day is to stay engaged in the debate.
Deadlines for Migration
The process aimed at creating the Single Euro Payments Area () is one such European Union (EU) integration initiative which has frequently challenged all involved to keep their cool while navigating troubled waters. In case anyone lost sight of the main prize after more than a decade of in the making: the harmonisation of the euro payments market will, among other things, contribute to bolster the common currency. Completion of the project is therefore becoming more relevant by the minute.
The good news is that the legislator will at long last create the regulatory conditions required to bring to its successful conclusion. With adoption of the ‘Regulation Establishing Technical Requirements for Credit Transfers and Direct Debits in Euros' (the Regulation) now planned for January or February 2012, the legislator will set the conditions for mandatory migration to harmonised payment schemes. According to the latest information, it seems very likely that the Regulation will define one end date for compliance of euro credit transfers and direct debits with this legislative act (as opposed to two separate end dates). Effectively, this means that existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will have to be replaced in the euro countries by the Credit Transfer () and Direct Debit (SDD) Schemes most probably by February 2014. For non-euro countries, the date will most probably be 31 October 2016.
The Regulation will also set new rules governing the development of payment schemes (see Blogs of 2 and 17 November 2011). The looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the European Commission and all stakeholders on the most appropriate way forward to ensure the proper functioning of the euro payments market and broad consensus on the evolution of the and SDD Schemes.
Also in 2012, the European Commission will review Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on payment services in the internal market. This Directive is generally referred to as the Payment Services Directive (PSD) which was implemented by most EU Member States in November 2009. With adoption of the PSD the EU legislator aimed at establishing a modern and comprehensive set of rules applicable to all electronic payment services (not just services). The PSD is of particular relevance with respect to the roll-out of SDD services due to the fact that the PSD defines common rules for the authorisation and the revocation of direct debits. The review of this Directive provides the opportunity to identify possible improvements for consideration by the EU legislator.
European Commission Green Paper on Card, Internet and Mobile Payments
Last but not least, in 2012 the European Commission will consider measures supporting market integration at EU level for card, internet and mobile payments on the basis of a green paper consultation. It is expected that the European Commission will publish this green paper in January 2012.
These initiatives in the pipeline demonstrate that in 2012 the integration of the euro payments market will enter a new and decisive phase; i.e. if ever there was a time to engage it is now. As stated above, promoting EU integration is not for the faint hearted and requires focus on the long-term objectives. In the Newsletter we recently featured the migration experience of an early mover on the customer side (see link below) who concludes: " implementation is an excellent and necessary idea to harmonise and simplify the extremely different payment systems existing throughout Europe today. The initiators of the process and the professionals involved in realising this initiative deserve our respect and our great compliments". Now that's the spirit.
On behalf of the , I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!
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