SEPA and EU Governments - A Love-Hate Thing? Efforts Must be Stepped U...

SEPA and EU Governments - A Love-Hate Thing? Efforts Must be Stepped Up to Communicate the SEPA Objectives at National Level

25 October 13

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In December 2009, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), which comprises the Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union ( ) Member States, emphasised that the full benefits of the Single Euro Payments Area ( ) "can only be obtained through the full migration of existing national euro payments transactions". The ECOFIN also called on public authorities in all Member States (i.e., themselves) to "significantly step up their migration efforts and lead migration by example".

The public sector is a prime economic actor responsible for as much as 50 percent of the gross domestic product in the euro area and accounts for up to 20 percent or more of electronic payments made in society. Early adoption of the payment schemes by public administrations would have provided governments with a golden opportunity to educate the general public at a national level on the objectives. is, after all, the brainchild of governments and other institutions. In most Member States however, the ECOFIN conclusions of December 2009 shared the fate of most New Year resolutions.

Since start 2009, the European Commission has regularly published data on migration in Member States. The ‘First Annual Progress Report on the State of Migration' released in February 2009 concluded that the uptake of Credit Transfer ( ) in the public sector had been "very limited". The report also noted that "there seems to be no general sense of urgency [among public administrations] to move to ". Subsequent reports and surveys largely confirmed these findings: with a few exceptions, the public sector under-performed compared to any other sector. The ‘Fourth Survey on Public Administrations´ Preparedness and Migration to ' published in February 2011 seems to finally indicate a change of trend. The migration rate for the replying public administrations in the euro area had increased to 14.5 percent in the reporting period. This improvement resulted primarily from above average progress achieved in individual Members States including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Spain. Migration to Direct Debit ( ) remains marginal at 0.24 percent due to the fact that most public administrations generally do not use direct debits.

will hit home soon. The forthcoming Regulation expected to be adopted by the legislator in 2011 will establish deadline(s) for the replacement of national euro credit transfer and direct schemes by harmonised payment schemes. These deadlines could apply as early as 2013 for and 2014 for . Educating the general public on the objectives at national level must take place now. This is the prime responsibility of the political authorities - such as governments - driving integration.

Please share your views and experiences regarding communication practiced by public authorities. For more information on positive communication successfully implemented by some governments, please view the country reports on this Webpage: ‘SEPA Migration - Reports, Case Studies and Indicators'.

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