PRESS RELEASE

“SEPA: from concept to reality” (fifth progress report)

20 July 2007

In its fifth progress report on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which is being published today, the Governing Council of the ECB focuses on giving guidance to the market in those areas in which greater efforts are needed in order to make the SEPA project a success.

The SEPA project has now entered a critical phase, as its official launch in January 2008 is only a few months away. The Eurosystem greatly appreciates the work already done by the European banking industry, through the European Payments Council (EPC), to make SEPA a reality. However, continued efforts, not only by the banks, but by all stakeholders (such as corporate entities, public administrations, national banking communities and merchants) will be necessary to ensure that the project becomes a success. This progress report therefore focuses on how “gaps” in delivery of the SEPA project might be addressed, whether short-term problems might simply hamper the timely start of SEPA in January 2008, or whether longer-term problems could have a negative impact on its sustained success. In this respect, particular attention should be paid to providing clarity on all features of direct debits, addressing the need for at least one additional European debit card scheme and ensuring the reachability of banks.

The key conclusions of this report should now be addressed by the market so as to ensure that SEPA becomes a lasting success.

The report, which is being published in English today, will be available in other official Community languages in due course.

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