Card fee cap negotiations begin
The regulation of interbank card payment fees will be voted on in April. Despite support in Parliament, it is unclear whether the legislation will be adopted before the European elections.
The European Parliament should finally adopt the planned project to impose a European standard during its mini-plenary session in Brussels on 2 April. The project would limit the costs of interbank fees incurred when paying by card.
The fees, which are paid for all card payments from the traders’ banks to the consumers’ banks, are different across the EU. Under the envisaged legislation, they would be capped at a European level for all national and transnational payments.
An MEP from the Committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs, Jean-Paul Gauzés told EurActiv that “interbank fees are controversial, as they compensate a commercial service. We had to find a balance between the domestic situation where fees are limited in a discriminate manner and removing them completely. Indeed, payment services are not public services!”
The fair amount
According to a number of sources, long discussions on interbank fees have successfully reached a compromise which should not require any further amendments by MEPs before the plenary session. Gauzès told EurActiv, “The matter was to find the fair amount and the cap decided by the Parliamentary committees is a good compromise.”
The general discussion is set for the 2 April, the penultimate session of the May 2014 EU elections, which will pass on all ongoing legislation to the next Parliament.
“For us, the objective is to finalise legislation which we have carried out during this term of office” confirmed the French MEP. “The committee voted on good conditions. The plenary session vote should reflect this”.
Member states begin discussions
Despite these efforts, the final adoption of the legislation will have to wait. Although a consensus may have been found in the European Parliament, member states have not yet had their say.
Certain countries, such as Germany, the UK or even Poland could object to parts of the legislation, as its impact would be more profound than in other countries. France, for example, already has interbank fees in place that are similar to the proposed European standard.
Talks between representatives of the member states commenced on 26 February. According to a diplomat, “progress made indicates that the legislation will not be passed by the current Parliament” and “that we are still far from a trilogue”.
A multilateral interchange fee (MIF) is an interbank payment made for each transaction carried out with a consumer card.
In a long legal battle waged against what are seen as unfair practices of payment cards groups, the European Commission fined Visa (which is currently under a new investigation) and took on MasterCard for its MIFs. In May 2012, the EU Tribunal upheld the EU executive move against MasterCard.
In an attempt to turn the tribunal's decision into law, the European Commission proposed in July 2013 new legislation capping MIFs at 0.2% of the transaction value for debit card payments, and at 0.3% for credit cards.
- 26 March 2014: Deadline for proposed amendments on the regulation for interbank card payment fees.
- 2 April 2014: Vote in mini-plenary session
- 22-25 May 2014: EU elections in all 28 member states