On April 3 2003 the European Payments Council (EPC) concluded agreements which should, from July 1 2003, facilitate the implementation of the Regulation on Cross-border Payments for Transfers between Accounts. This regulation enables citizens and businesses to take full advantage of the euro across the European Union by ensuring banks apply the same charges for cross-border and national payments.

The EPC, set up one year ago by the Banking Federation of the European Union, the European Savings Bank Group and the European Association of Cooperative Banks, approved two conventions: (i) the Credeuro Convention, which lays down standards for the execution of simple bank-to-bank transfers, which should take no more than three days, and (ii) the Convention on Principles of Inter-bank Pricing, defining common pricing methods.

In order to develop a pan-European payment infrastructure, the EPC is currently considering a single market for bank cards, which should help to limit fraud. The European Commission will also be presenting a communication in June 2003 identifying legal obstacles to cross-border payments, in particular to payments by bank card.

Finally, the EPC has approved recommendations to promote electronic payments and to reduce the costs of cash handling.

The European Commission will submit a report on domestic payment transactions to the European Council and Parliament by July 2004.

For further information on this topic please contact Philip Woolfson at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly by telephone (+32 2 626 0500) or by fax (+32 2 626 0510) or by email ([email protected]).