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SEPA Regulation should set tone on card fees


21 Dec 2011


Euro & Finance

The trialogue agreement on the SEPA¹ End-Date Regulation is a step towards positive regulatory action on bank fees for payments. EuroCommerce urges regulators to take the same path on card fees.

EuroCommerce Director General, Christian Verschueren said, “We welcome this as a real step forward: what we need now is similar positive action on MIFs for cards. We see no difference, in terms of the service to merchants, between a direct debit and a card transaction. There is therefore no justification for inter-bank fees for cards.” 

Retail has consistently argued that the multilateral interchange fee (MIF) for SEPA direct debit (SDD) is unjustifiable. The Regulation will remove these fees from 1 November 2012 at cross-border level and from February 2017 for national direct debit.

We look to the forthcoming green paper on payments for concrete action from the regulators on card fees,” continued Mr Verschueren. “The banks have had it their own way for too long on payments. Big changes are needed: fairness, real competition and innovation must be the watchwords for SEPA.” 

The Regulation establishes interoperable rules for credit transfer and direct debits across the EU and will set a deadline of February 2014 for the switch over from national to SEPA payments. It also requires banks using the schemes nationally to be ‘reachable’ to further promote cross-border payments. Specific national systems, such as the card-based ELV in Germany, will have a transitional period until February 2016 to comply with the Regulation.

The text will go to the European Parliament, which is expected to approve it at first reading early in 2012.

¹Single European Payments Area


Marjolein Raes

Director Advocacy & Communications

T: +32 2 737 05 99

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries. 

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 95% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 31 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.