(Note: the European Payments Council is not part of the EU institutional framework.)
In August 2013, we noticed this remark on Twitter: “# is the most stupid thing ever. No one needs this [expletive].” With emails addressed to the European Payments Council () in September 2013, a commentator pointed out (bold added): “I would like to register my absolute disapproval of your payments system. How you think this will make Europe more ‘dynamic and competitive’ is really beyond me. (...) This just wraps us up in more bureaucracy (...) the authorities in Europe lack an understanding of what we need.” In response, the shared an invitation to consider the testimony of payment service users who reported on the tangible benefits generated with migration to the Single Euro Payments Area (). The verdict of this market participant however, remained: “There is no justification [for ].” It has to be recognised that opinions on the merit of further European Union (EU) payment integration may differ. The comments cited here and similar observations occasionally articulated in the debate however also indicate that misunderstandings persist as to who invented the concept and mandated migration to . This author clarifies (again): it was not the .
is a European Union (EU) integration initiative pursued by the EU governments and the EU institutions, i.e. the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU representing EU Member States and the European Central Bank. The is not part of the EU institutional framework. The is one stakeholder group among many impacted by the policy-maker-driven programme. The is not responsible for the overall management of the process. The is therefore, not in a position to address concerns of any EU citizen with regard to EU policies in the area of payments determined by the EU institutions.
In February 2012, the legislator, (i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the representing Member States), formally adopted the ‘Regulation () No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits’ (the Regulation). From 1 February 2014 onwards, organisations making payments in the euro area will have to carry out credit transfer and direct debit transactions in line with the core provisions set out in the Regulation. Effectively, this means that as of this date, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes in the euro area will be replaced by Credit Transfer and Direct Debit. The Regulation is the first legislative act in the context which defines also compliance requirements to be met by payment service users, (earlier payments legislation adopted between 2001 and 2009 focused on engaging payment service providers in the process. For more information, refer to the Website page, entitled ‘ Legal and Regulatory Framework’ included in the links below.) This blog cites the expectations articulated by the governments and institutions driving the programme on the benefits to materialise once is completed.
According to the governments and the institutions, further integration of the euro payments market will strengthen the common currency and result in faster, more efficient payment services for payment service users in a more competitive market.
Also the European Commission has consistently articulated the expectation that the legal and technical harmonisation exercise will contribute to streamlining business processes beyond payments by replacing paper-based procedures with standardised electronic solutions. The Commission Communication ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (2010) is one of the seven so-called flagship initiatives of the Commission’s ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ (see links below). The Digital Agenda for Europe defines the key enabling role that the use of information and communication technologies will have to play if Europe wants to succeed in its ambitions for 2020. Section 2.1.2 of the Digital Agenda for Europe, states: “ will also provide a launch platform for value added services linked to payments, such as the development of a European e-invoicing framework.”
pioneers on the demand side confirm: migration to generates tangible benefits
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The representatives of businesses, public administrations and government agencies who reported on their successfully completed implementation projects in the Newsletter (see links below) confirm that timely migration to is manageable, feasible and beneficial. There is no doubt that the scope of change required to ensure compliance is extensive, but it does pay off. Full compliance will lead to more streamlined internal processes, lower IT costs, reduced costs based on bank charges, a consolidated number of bank accounts and cash management systems, and more efficiency and integration of an organisation’s payment business. Early adopters that fully reaped the advantages offered with the payment schemes and technical standards emphasise that compliance is just the first step, organisations can then focus on generating the efficiencies.
- Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro (the SEPA Regulation)
- EPC Blog (November 2013): SEPA Fact Check: the Rationale for SEPA as Defined by the EU Governments, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Central Bank Driving the SEPA Programme and Determining the SEPA Compliance Requirements
- European Commission SEPA Website
- Council of the European Union Website
- European Central Bank SEPA Website
- European Commission Communication: A Digital Agenda for Europe
- European Commission Communication: Europe 2020 - A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
- EPC Newsletter: Case Studies Highlighting Successful SEPA Migration Projects of Bank Customers
- EPC Website: About SEPA - SEPA Legal and Regulatory Framework
- The EPC Migration Tool Kit: Get Ready for SEPA by 1.2.2014
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