Brussels, 3 June 2010
Internal Market: Commission acts to ensure that 8 Member States implement EU rules on payment services and public procurement redress
In order to ensure that EU citizens and businesses fully benefit from the Internal Market, the European Commission has taken action against a total of 8 Member States. Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Poland, Romania and Sweden will receive reasoned opinions requesting them to fully implement the Payment Services Directive (PSD) in their national laws. 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 single Member State. It provides the legal foundation to make the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) possible. In the area of public procurement, Austria, Greece, Luxembourg, and Spain will also receive reasoned opinions requesting them to fully implement the Remedies Directive, which aims to improve the national review procedures that businesses can use when they consider that a public authority has awarded a contract unfairly. If this Directive is not implemented properly and on time, there is a risk that bidders can not challenge illegal contract awards effectively. If a Member State does not reply satisfactorily to its reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
Payments Services Directive – Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Poland, Romania and Sweden
The Payment Services Directive 2007/64/EC (IP/05/1514) aims to guarantee fair and open access to payments markets and to increase consumer protection. Before the PSD, payment service providers were effectively blocked from competing and offering their services throughout the EU. The Directive will ensure that all euro or domestic electronic payments are completed in a maximum of one day after the payment order is given, provides the legal foundation for cross-border direct debit schemes and should also lead to lower prices and greater choice for users. The PSD also provides the legal foundation for the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which is an initiative of the European banking industry to provide an integrated market for payment services within the euro area (IP/07/550).
While the majority of Member States have fully implemented the Directive, six Member States – Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Poland, Romania and Sweden – still have to implement some or all of its provisions. In three Member States, additional or secondary legislation is still required in order to implement a number of provisions, mainly related to prudential requirements for payment institutions (Romania), information requirements (Spain), or anti-money laundering requirements (Cyprus). However, in Greece, Sweden and Poland, all the PSD provisions still have to be implemented. The deadline for implementation was November 2009.
Public procurement remedies – Austria, Greece, Luxembourg and Spain
Effective procedures for seeking redress are essential in making sure that public contracts ultimately go to the company which has made the best offer. Such procedures will also help make businesses and citizens more confident that public procurement procedures are being conducted in a fair and competitive manner throughout the EU. The Remedies Directive 2007/66/EC aims at strengthening national review procedures for combating illegal contract awards. It introduces a mandatory stand-still period of at least 10 days between the contract award and the actual signature of the contract to allow bidders a reasonable period of time to challenge the award decision. The Directive also seeks to combat illegal direct awards of public contracts, which is the most serious infringement of EU procurement law. National courts will be able to render ineffective such contracts that have been illegally awarded without transparency and prior competitive tendering.
Four Member States – Austria, Greece, Luxembourg and Spain – have not fully implemented the Directive in their national laws, for which the deadline was 20 December 2009. Incomplete implementation of the Directive means that European businesses are being denied their rights when participating in public tenders in these Member States. If the Member States concerned do not reply satisfactorily to its reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may refer the matters to the Court of Justice.
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States: