The European Commission has adopted a proposal to give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) format can still be accepted so as to minimise any possible risk of disruption to payments for consumers and businesses. The proposal does not change the formal deadline for migration of 1 February 2014, when existing national direct debit procedures will be replaced by SEPA rules.
In a statement on 9 January 2014, Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier announced that migration rates for credit transfers and direct debits were not high enough to ensure a smooth transition to SEPA. An additional transition period of six months for those payment services users who are yet to migrate means that payments that differ from a SEPA format will continue to be accepted until 1 August 2014. Barnier called on Member States to fully assume their responsibilities and accelerate and intensify efforts to migrate to SEPA, and warned that the transition period will not be extended after 1 August 2014.
On 22 January 2014, the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) published a report containing a draft legislative resolution for the European Parliament, together with an annex that sets out the amendments to the proposed Regulation amending SEPA migration. ECON states that the proposed Regulation should enter into force as a matter of urgency and apply, with retrospective effect, from 31 January 2014. The European Parliament will consider the proposed Regulation in its plenary session to be held from 3 to 6 February 2014.
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