On Sep. 26, 2011, the EC opened an investigation, instigated by a complaint, which should provide useful guidance on the EC’s treatment of standardisation agreements. It is also another example of the current focus on the financial services sector in the EU.
The case concerns the standardisation process for payments over the internet ('e-payments') undertaken by the European Payments Council (EPC). The EPC is the coordination and decision-making body of the European banking industry for payments. The EU guidelines on horizontal agreements adopted in 2010 set out the kinds of agreements that do not raise competition concerns and the way that the EC analyses standardisation agreements and procedures under EU competition rules. The EC will investigate the e-payments standardisation process against the background of that guidance. In particular, it will consider issues such as whether it will exclude new entrants and payment providers who are not linked to a bank. The conclusions will be relevant to standardisation rules used across the EU.