Parliament propositions strike a balance says Gauzès

The vast majority of MEPs in the Economic and Monetary Committee (ECON) voted in favour of the amendments on the payment services directive proposal, by rapporteur Jean-Paul Gauzès. However, consumer association BEUC criticised the changes for being too much in favour of financial service providers.

In an interview, Gauzès told EURACTIV about some of the main changes to the proposed framework for a single European payments area (SEPA):

  • The directive on payment services will apply to transactions among EU-based providers and in Member State’s currencies only;
  • payment service providers are required to be authorised and control a certain level of capital;
  • the rules on transparency of the conditions and costs of payment services are intended to allow consumers and users to a better level of information and;
  • the extension of execution time to 2 days as from 2010 leaves sufficient time for money conversion or anti-money laundering controls.

The report was adopted by an overwhelming majority of votes. Therefore, Gauzès hopes that this will send out a clear signal to the Council. He thinks that an agreement reached in first reading is desirable, in order to have a legal framework for the SEPA ready by the end of 2006, and says, that the turnout has shown that the current propositions are very balanced.

Some MEPs of the EPP group welcomed the decision as a "big step towards a common European payments area".

Liberal-democrat MEP Sharon Bowles criticised the proposal for favouring large banks. She said "Keeping the level of capital requirement low is vital if new payment systems and medium size remitters are not to be squeezed out of the market."

ECB Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell said that there are still areas of concern and urged banks to step up their activities in electronic and mobile-phone payments.

Jim Murray of European consumer's organisation BEUC said: "I am glad that MEPs are happy with their payment services, but most other consumers are not." BEUC especially criticised the sector's shortcomings, such as lack of information or high charges to banks trying to avoid their obligations if your card has been stolen.

Eurocommerce, the European retail association warned not to weaken the original directive. Xavier Durieu said the ECON committee should "maintain the spirit of the directive to the benefit of all citizens, otherwise the whole text will be useless". He further concluded: "It is time for European consumers to benefit from the single market in the area of payments."

On 12 September 2006, the European Parliament’s ECON Committee adopted a report on payment services by rapporteur Jean-Paul Gauzès. The draft legislation intends to facilitate and speed up cross-border payments by opening up the market to greater competition. The aim is to create a single European payments area (SEPA) by 2010.

  • The member states are to decide on the propositions by the European Parliament in the Council, within the co-decision procedure.

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