European parliamentarians have adopted a non-legislative resolution calling for common multilateral interchange fees across the EU.
Backing the details of a green paper published earlier this year on creating an integrated European market for card, Internet and mobile payments, members of the parliament's economic and monetary affair committee voted for the card market to follow Sepa's lead.
"Just as Sepa is designed to remove the gap between domestic and cross-border bank transfers, so the goal of integrating the card payment market should be to make cross-border payments as convenient as payments at national level," says a statement.
The MEPs call falls short of an interchange fee cap, instead arguing for transparency to help to make handling fees "converge to the common lowest level based on real costs".
MasterCard Europe president Javier Perez says that the move is not in the best interest of consumers, who will not have any benefits passed on to them by merchants.
"MasterCard fully supports the principles of the Green Paper to advance electronic payments in Europe. We are now calling on the Commission to ensure that any future payment legislation be carefully weighed against the known consequences of reduced interchange fees to maintain the existing level of vigorous competition in the EU payments market," says Perez.
The politicians also backed the creation of a Sepa-like model for Internet and mobile payments, but warned against regulating the market too heavily, so as not to hinder its natural growth or stifle innovation.
Security requirements should be the same in all EU member states, with common technical standards fostering interoperability and providing real-time delivery, says the non-legislative resolution.
Meanwhile, Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström says that he has successfully inserted a point in the paper designed to stop the likes of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal from cutting off funds to organisations such as WikiLeaks.
The parliament "considers it to be in the public interest to define objective rules describing the circumstances and procedures under which card payment schemes may unilaterally refuse acceptance".
Says Engstrom: "It is not reasonable to Visa, MasterCard and PayPal may decide that small Swedish companies that sell horror movies or sex toys should not be allowed to continue to sell their products online...Another example is when Visa, MasterCard and PayPal blocked payments to WikiLeaks. There was no legal basis and should be seen as the three companies helped the US government to silence an inconvenient voice. It is not acceptable that private corporations have the power of free speech."
Read the report details here