Towards a Single Euro Payments Area – Objectives and Deadlines (4th Progress Report)

17 February 2006

In its fourth progress report on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which is published today, the Governing Council of the ECB defines the final SEPA objectives.

The report, which has been discussed with the European Commission, calls for the development of future-oriented, easy, user-friendly and cost-efficient payment solutions to answer the needs of the various customer segments. The banking industry needs to develop the corresponding business models at the euro area level, while migration plans will mainly be defined at the national level, with the assistance of national central banks. The Governing Council supports the 2008 and 2010 deadlines already agreed and underlines the need for good project management and an effective communication strategy.

Part of the progress report is dedicated to the SEPA payment instruments, i.e. credit transfers, direct debits and card payments. It presents the Governing Council’s expectations, the corresponding time frames and an assessment of the work already done by the European banking industry. It also identifies areas where this work needs to be enhanced in order to consider the expectations of all stakeholders – corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, citizens and public authorities. In the field of payment infrastructures, interoperability is expected by the end of 2010, even if the market-driven consolidation process is not completed by then. Finally, particular emphasis is placed on the need to accelerate standardisation work.

The report, entitled “Towards a Single Euro Payments Area – Objectives and Deadlines (4th Progress Report)” (published today in English), will be available in other official Community languages in due course.

Further consultations with the representatives of the various SEPA stakeholders will be organised as a follow-up to this report.

European Payments Council

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