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Single Euro Payments Area a fundamental element of the Internal Market. Sari Essayah MEP


21 Dec 2011


Euro & Finance

Following the adoption today in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) of the European Parliament of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) Report, EPP Group Rapporteur Sari Essayah MEP said that the SEPA is extremely important for Europe's Internal Market: "SEPA provides the basis for other development of Europe's Internal Market."

"SEPA will make the payments sector more effective and will increase competition. It creates favourable conditions for Europe-wide implementation of innovations. The European economy as a whole will benefit by €123 billion over the next six years", said Mrs Essayah, referring to the impact study published by the European Commission.

There will be no need for companies or individuals to have several bank accounts within the single payments area. The payments to and from a single bank account in any Member State will always be treated as a domestic payment.

As announced today, the EP will vote on the SEPA Regulation in February 2012. There will be a deadline for changeover to the new sysyem for both SEPA credit transfers and direct debits, 1 February 2014. In those Member States which do not have the Euro as their currency, the deadline is 30 October 2016.

From 1 February 2014 onwards, common standards are required to be used by all banks, most importantly where IBAN and BIC codes are concerned. However, in order to provide enough time for adaptation, several waivers were introduced. Most of them provide transition periods of two years after the end-date, i.e. up to 1 February 2016.

The Parliament achieved many improvements for the benefit of consumers. Consumers may instruct their Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to limit direct debit collection to a certain amount or periodicity and to establish specific positive or negative lists of payees.

"The Regulation also does away with the need for consumers to provide a BIC code for domestic payments. The consumer only needs to provide the IBAN code and the bank will automatically establish the BIC without extra charge", explained Mrs Essayah. For cross-border payments, this requirement will be enforced on 1 February 2016. "A Member State may also allow consumers to use BBAN instead of IBAN for two extra years, but the banks need to provide the conversion services for free."

"The Parliament also pushed through the change that there will be no extra charges for payments above €50,000. We also abolished the settlement-based national reporting obligations, because better methods to provide balance of payments statistics have come into existence", concluded Mrs Essayah.

For further information:

Sari ESSAYAH MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845178

Sarita Rauta, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-476-880538

Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 271 Members.