The European Commission says draft rules for harmonising cross-border payment transfers could save the EU economy EUR50-100 billion per year.
The Commission says its proposals will bring down legal barriers to the creation of a single payments area with the aim of making cross-border payments – by credit card, debit card, electronic bank transfer, direct debit or any other means – as easy, cheap and secure as domestic money transfers.
Brussels estimates the annual cost of making payments between fragmented systems is 2-3% of GDP and that the average yearly costs to consumers for basic banking services can range from as little as €34 to as much as €252 depending on country of residence. The proposed Directive, known as the 'New Legal Framework', will guarantee fair and open access to payments markets, says the Commission, and will increase and standardise consumer protection.
Crucially, the Framework is being extended to all EU countries, not just those in which the euro is the national currency.
Internal market and service commissioner Charlie McCreevy says the Directive will encourage and enhance competition between national payments systems and enable the creation of new cross-border services for consumers and businesses. "I count on the banking industry, which is responsible for removing the technical barriers which stand in the way of a Single Euro Payment Area, to accelerate its work."