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Brussels, 13 June 2013
Antitrust: Commission closes investigation of EPC but continues monitoring online payments market
The European Commission has closed an antitrust investigation opened in September 2011 to examine the standardisation process for payments over the internet (e-payments) carried out by the European Payments Council (EPC).
The EPC is the decision-making and coordination body of the European banking industry in relation to payments. The Commission had concerns that through its work on standards for e-payments, and in particular the e-Payments Framework, the EPC could exclude new entrants not linked to a bank from the e-payments market.
In the course of the investigation the EPC announced its decision to stop the development of the e-Payments Framework and any other standardisation initiatives that would have the same object or effect. As a result, the complainant in this case, Sofort AG, withdrew its complaint. Under these circumstances – and as announced in February 2013 – the Commission has decided to close its investigation.
Internet payments are vital for the development of e-commerce and the good functioning of the EU internal market. The Commission, in close co-operation with national competition authorities, will therefore monitor this market closely to ensure healthy competition and a level playing field for all operators. In addition, following the Green Paper published on 11 January 20121, the Commission is considering proposing legislation to establish objective and non-discriminatory rules for all players active in the e-payments market. These rules would be aimed at ensuring that customers can make secure payments while ensuring that new players are not prevented from entering the market.