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European Commission - Press release

A better deal for consumers: Commission welcomes agreement on cheaper cross-border payments and fairer currency conversions

Brussels, 19 December 2018

The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on a Commission proposal that will make cross-border payments in euro cheaper across the entire EU. The agreed rules will also bring full transparency in currency conversion when consumers are paying by card.

The Commission welcomes the political agreement that will allow consumers and businesses in euro and non-euro countries alike to benefit from low-cost euro transactions across borders. The new regulation will also ensure that currency conversion charges are fully transparent and comparable, allowing consumers to save money on currency conversion costs when they travel or shop abroad. Provisionally agreed by the European Parliament and Council last week, the new rules were given a green light by EU Permanent Representatives at their meeting in Brussels today.

Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “With this agreement, non-euro country citizens will also enjoy one of the benefits of the euro. That is, low-cost euro transactions using highly efficient euro payments infrastructure. Moreover, this regulation will boost competition in the area of currency conversion. And it will allow Europeans to easily check and compare conversion charges when paying abroad with their cards, or when sending money online to a country with another EU currency."

Up until today, cross-border payments in euro from non-euro area Member States could cost as much as €20 in some countries while equivalent cross-border payments from euro area Member States are very cheap or even free. The agreed rules will allow consumers and businesses outside of the euro area to fully benefit from the Single Market, and from the efficient euro payments infrastructure when they send money, withdraw cash or pay abroad in euro. All payments in euro outside the euro area (within the EU) will now be priced the same as domestic payments in the local official currency. This means that cross-border euro payments will incur very low or even zero fees.

The rules also provide that all EU consumers will be able to compare currency conversion charges when paying with their cards in another EU currency. Banks, merchants or ATM operators offering a transaction in the consumer's home currency will all have to declare currency conversion charges in the same way, making it easy for consumers to select the best option. Similarly, consumers will be informed about the currency conversion charges levied by their banks when sending money abroad through their online banking platforms. In this way, the regulation tackles opaque pricing methods for currency conversion, particularly for ‘dynamic currency conversion', i.e. the possibility to pay foreign merchants or ATM operators in one's home currency.

 

Background

On 28 March 2018, the Commission proposed to amend the existing EU Regulation on Cross-border Payments (924/09). These proposals stemmed from the Consumer Financial Services Action Plan that was published in March 2017. 

Since taking office, a key priority of the Juncker Commission has been to build a deeper and fairer Single Market, which allows people, services, goods and capital to move freely in an economy with an annual Gross Domestic Product of €15 trillion. Today's agreed rules will allow all consumers and businesses to fully reap the benefits of the Single Market when they send money, withdraw cash or pay abroad.

 

IP/18/6856

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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