The European Savings Bank Group has questioned the benefits of a single euro payments area (Sepa) and accused the European Commission of adding to market uncertainty following the publication of a critical consultative paper.
The Commission's 'Sepa Incentives' paper calls on the banking industry to pick up the pace in delivering the technical framework for a new euro payments market by 2010. The document questions the value of proposed new payments products for harmonising cross-border credit and debit transfers and threatens regulatory intervention to prevent the delivery of "mini-Sepa and failure".
The stinging criticism has provoked an angry riposte from the ESBG which says that up-front judgements made by the Commission, for example on the quality of the banking schemes proposed, "will create market uncertainty and delay adoption of the pan-European payment instruments".
The lobby group suggests that Brussels reconciles its vision of Sepa with the actual project risk undertaken by the banking industry. It further questions the Commission's views that "the single euro payments area will result in tremendous gains and potential savings for society".
Says the ESBG: "Neither an impact assessment nor a cost benefit analysis comparing the costs and savings from Sepa – and the time necessary to realise the latter – has been produced by the Commission so far to provide a solid basis for such a statement."
In a preface to the publication of its consultative document, the Commission is at pains to emphasise its support for the bank-directed European Payments Council and its preference for a "market driven, self-regulatory approach".
Stakeholders have been invited to give their feedback on the document by 21 March ahead of a second round of consultations in the Summer.
The Sapa Incentives paper can be downloaded here:Download the document now 975 kb (Adobe Acrobat Document)