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10 September 2009

Completing SEPA: a Roadmap for 2009 2012

To make the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) a success, strong commitment by all actors concerned is required. The EPC, the decision-making and coordination body of the European banking industry in relation to payments, has successfully delivered the necessary schemes for SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debits (SDD) and is working on card standards, but SEPA migration is still slow. In May 2009 – almost one and a half years after the SCT launch – only 3,9 % of credit transfers used SEPA standards. In the current difficult economic climate, business may hesitate to invest even though retail banking and payments business remains a stable source of regularly growing revenue. Integrated payment markets will play a key role in the future of these banks because of their pervasive role in our modern societies.

Waning enthusiasm by banks may be exacerbated by uncertainty surrounding key aspects of the project. While SEPA is primarily market-driven, some uncertainty can only be resolved with the aid of public authorities. Action is needed now by all stakeholders.

The ECOFIN Council conclusions of 10 February 2009 "recognised that the current financial crisis and economic slow-down provides opportunities for major efficiency gains and cost savings, thus requiring reinforced commitment to the project from all parties and invited the Commission and the ECB and the Eurosystem to continue their role in identifying the necessary actions for its successful realisation".

This SEPA roadmap provides a framework for action to achieve full implementation and responds to the Commission Communication for the Spring European Council of 4 March 2009 where the Commission announced it would "come forward by mid-2009 with proposals to ensure that the full benefits of a Single Euro Payments Areaare realised."

The Commission and the European Central Bank share the same vision for SEPA and this Roadmap reflects close cooperation between the ECB and the Commission regarding its further development. The Eurosystem in its 6th SEPA Progress Report has also identified the concrete tasks to ensure SEPA implementation and migration. The two documents are complementary.

This Roadmap focuses primarily on Member States which have adopted the euro. Nevertheless, most non-euro Member States are striving for euro membership and the euro already plays an important role in their commercial and trading relationships. It is therefore important that non-euro Member States feel appropriately concerned by this Roadmap, even if SEPA migration occurs at a less rapid pace.

© European Commission

Documents associated with this article

Completing SEPA - a Roadmap for 2009 2012.docx

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