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IP/07/1914

Brussels, 12 December 2007

Payment Services Directive: Commission encourages swift and coherent implementation at national level

The European Commission is to assist Member States in their implementation of the Payment Services Directive (PSD), which following its recent publication in the EU Official Journal has now to be written into national law as soon as possible, and by 1 November 2009 at the latest. In particular, the Commission will set up best-practice workshops and an interactive question-and-answer website. The aim of the PSD is to ensure that electronic payments within the EU – in particular credit transfer, direct debit and card payments – become as easy, efficient, and secure as domestic payments within a Member State, by providing the legal foundation to make the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) possible. The PSD will reinforce the rights and protection of all users of payment services (consumers, retailers, large and small companies and public authorities).

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "A coherent legal framework for cross-border payments is an essential part of making SEPA a reality. Now that the PSD has been published, Member States need to deliver on their commitment to implement this crucial Directive by 1 November 2009 at the latest. We are putting practical workshops and tools at their disposal to help them achieve this rapidly and consistently."

Ensuring coherent implementation of the PSD at national level

While the PSD's general approach is one of full harmonisation, some of its provisions leave a certain margin of discretion to Member States. Cooperation between national regulators and the Commission will therefore be required to ensure the consistent, timely and equivalent transposition of these provisions into national law.

To assist Member States during the implementation phase, a 'transposition group' will be set up with the task of comparing approaches and choices made by Member States in order to highlight any discrepancies at an early stage, and to provide thorough and consistent understanding of the PSD provisions. The group, which will be chaired by the Commission, will consist of Member State representatives in charge of drafting the national implementation rules. Furthermore, the Commission will hold regular meetings with the payments industry and other relevant stakeholders in order to identify potential issues during the implementation process.
The Commission has also established a question-and-answer website where Member States can submit queries, in all EU languages, through a standardised form. The objective is to answer all questions promptly and within three months at the latest, unless further consultation of the transposition group is needed. Furthermore, for legal reasons all answers are given without prejudice to the position of the European Court of Justice which provides the definitive interpretation of EU law. All answers will be published on this website, which is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/framework/transposition_en.htm

About the Payment Services Directive (PSD)

The Payment Services Directive 2007/64/EC – proposed in December 2005 (IP/05/1514) and now published in the Official Journal (No. L 319) – aims to guarantee fair and open access to payments markets and to increase consumer protection. Currently each Member State has its own rules on payments, and the annual cost of making payments through these fragmented systems is as much as 2-3% of GDP. Payment service providers are effectively blocked from competing and offering their services throughout the EU. Removal of these barriers could save the EU economy €28 billion per year overall. The Directive will bring major benefits to all the users of payment services. It will ensure that all euro or domestic electronic payments (as well as certain other payments involving euro currency exchange) are completed in a maximum of one day after the payment order is given. It provides the legal foundation for the launch of cross-border direct debit schemes. It should also lead to lower prices and greater choice for users by fostering competition in the market and allowing non-banking institutions to enter the payment markets.

Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)

The Single Euro Payments Area is an initiative of the European banking industry, represented by the European Payments Council, that is strongly supported by the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB). The Commission and the ECB see SEPA as an integrated market for payment services which is subject to effective competition and where there is no distinction between cross-border and national payments within the euro area (see IP/07/550). This calls for the removal of all technical, legal and commercial barriers between the current national payment markets.
More information on the PSD and SEPA is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/framework/index_en.htm


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