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15 May 2002

Commission publishes Working Document on possible framework for the Single Payment Area

As most actions of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) relating to Retail Financial Services have been completed the Commission proposes a range of new RFS initiatives in the forthcoming 6th FSAP Progress Report.

This Working Document considers the need for a coherent and comprehensive modern legal framework for retail payments in the Internal Market.

The objectives for the Single Payment Area should at least strive:

  • to make the Internal Market the new domestic market,
  • to promote efficient and secure payment means and systems,
  • to enhance customer protection and strengthen consumer confidence relating to all payment means,
  • to ensure competition on equal terms in a level playing field.

    Issues which call for an update of the existing legislation on retail payments are related to the following points:

  • the adoption of the Regulation on Cross-Border Payments in Euro.
  • two studies on the Directive on Cross-Border Credit Transfers and the Recommendation on Electronic Payment instruments.
  • the Commissions announcement to adapt the maximum execution time and the 'money-back-guarantee' for cross-border credit transfers, and the issue of “refunds”.
  • diverging national rules on payment instruments and payment systems
  • the impact of information technology on the development of payment instruments, payment infrastructures and payment markets.
  • initiatives undertaken by European banks. Their 'Blueprint' on the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) is expected to contain a range of legal prerequisites or desirable developments addressed to public authorities, including European institutions. The Commission intends to address these ideas in the discussion on this legal framework once they are known.

    The Commission's services believe that it is necessary to discuss some general issues which should guide this initiative. Questions are among others:

  • The need for a coherent legal framework.
  • National versus EU legislation.
  • “Full” harmonisation versus “minimum” harmonisation.
  • The choice of the legal instrument at EU-level.

    Comments shall be sent to the Commission by end July 2002 under

    Working Document

    © European Commission

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