The European Parliament has passed legislation creating a legally-binding deadline of 1 February 2014 for banks to migrate to Single euro area payment (Sepa) credit transfers and direct debits.
Having agreed the migration date with the European Council in December, Parliament has now rubber-stamped the deal, with legislation adopted in the first reading with 635 votes in favour, 17 against and 31 abstentions.
European legislators have long accepted the need to enforce migration deadlines from national credit transfers and direct debits to Sepa, conceding self-regulation has failed to bring the move about quickly enough.
The parliament says that by finally pushing through end-dates, the continent can ensure that banks compete fairly, eliminate hidden national charges, and accelerate transfers that could save up to EUR123 billion within six years, benefiting clients, financial institutions and businesses.
Sepa rapporteur Sari Essayah, MEP, says: "This regulation really benefits citizens. It will enable them to make payments from one bank account to others all over Europe, just like a normal domestic payment...Companies will benefit too, by not needing more than one bank account in Europe for each payment purpose."
Charlie McCreevy, the former European Commissioner for Internal Markets and Services & non-executive board member at Sentenial, discusses the most urgent issues confronting institutions in the migration to Sepa.