EESC calls for cheaper and easier basic electronic payments over internet for EU citizens

Brussels, Belgium, 16-12-2013 — /EuropaWire/ — On 11 December, the EESC plenary session backed the Commission’s proposals on card-based payments, but wants EU citizens to be able to make basic electronic payments cheaply and easily over the internet, both nationally and across borders.

Debit cards, credit cards and all manner of mobile and electronic payment schemes are coming to dominate trade, but EU regulations on payments have struggled to keep up with the rapid pace of change. “The argument on how to start dismantling the high cost structure imposed by the card payment services that dominate the plastic money market has been going on for far too long. In addition, the same cost structure is rapidly becoming more frequent in mobile payment services”, saysVincent Farrugia (Employers Group, Malta), rapporteur for the EESC opinion on Payment services.

Lower interchange fees

The new payments package, which introduces a cap on interchange fees and updates, will go some way towards improving transparency and security, removing national divergences and aligning legal rules in the payment system.

However, the Committee recommends that caps for both credit and debit payments be lower than those proposed. Furthermore, scrapping interchange fees altogether for debit cards would further open up e-commerce in Europe and benefit consumers and the economy. “Capping interchange charges should be made effective immediately for payments using credit cards and debit cards in the domestic market, and not merely for cross-border purchases”, adds Vincent Farrugia.

The EESC also wants to include the same level of caps for commercial or business cards.

Safer online shopping

More and more internet users in the EU are shopping online. However, only 9.3% of traders actually sell across EU borders, and 44% of Europeans say they do not buy abroad because they are uncertain of their rights. Payment costs and delivery problems, as well as legal and security concerns, are holding internet business back. The EESC believes that the new proposals will mean shoppers get better, cheaper internet payment services with less risk of online fraud and disputes.

These new proposals will also promote the emergence of new players and the development of innovative mobile and internet payment systems. The proposals also strengthen consumer rights on international money transfers. EU payment laws should not just respond to today’s market needs, they should also look ahead to the coming years.

The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.


For more information, please contact:
EESC Press Unit
Tel.: +32 2 546 8641


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