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Brussels, 8 June 2009

Commission launches consultation on possible end-date for Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) migration

The European Commission has launched a consultation on whether and how deadlines should be set for the migration of existing payment products – i.e. credit transfers and direct debits – to the new Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) products. Feedback from all stakeholders will help the Commission to identify whether there is a need for action in this respect and at which level. Interested parties are invited to send their comments to the Commission by 3 August 2009.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "The SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) project holds much promise in terms of improved efficiency, dynamism and competitiveness of the European economy. Significant progress has been made on the road to SEPA since 2002, but migration remains slow. We should therefore assess whether some deadlines should be defined for the migration to the new SEPA credit transfers and direct debits."

The SEPA project aims at creating an integrated market for electronic payment services in euros, with harmonised sets of business rules and technical standards. With these new European payments, consumers, companies, merchants and public administrations will be able to make payments under the same conditions throughout Europe as easily as within their own country. SEPA covers three core payment instruments: SEPA credit transfer (SCT), SEPA direct debit (SDD) and payment cards.

Setting clear deadlines for the migration of legacy credit transfers and direct debits to SEPA credit transfers and direct debits would send a strong signal to all stakeholders that SEPA migration is an irreversible process. It would provide certainty and predictability and act as a strong incentive for both industry and users to speed up migration. The European Central Bank/Eurosystem stated in its 6th SEPA progress report that "setting a realistic, but ambitious end date for the migration to SCT and SDD is a necessary step in order to reap the benefits of SEPA early".

The Commission is therefore launching a public consultation on this subject in order to obtain a more comprehensive view of stakeholders' positions. The consultation paper presents all the options available today regarding the definition of such an end-date and its potential practicalities:

  • Should it cover only standards, or schemes as well? Should it cover only the interbank space, or the bank-to-customer space as well? Should it entail full migration or allow the exclusion of certain products?

  • If an end-date is seen as needed, should there be one common end-date for SCT and SDD migration or two separate end-dates? Should they be set at national level and/or at European level? Should they be left to self-regulation or set by regulation?

The consultation document is available at:

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