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Sticking to the deadline

Sticking to the deadline

Marcel Woutersen

Senior Communications Consultant

17 January 2014

Sticking to the deadline

As could be expected, the proposal of the European Commission to extend the transition period of SEPA with six months has fueled the debate all across Europe.

The European Payments Council (EPC) issued a press release in which all parties involved are advised to proceed as usual and stick to the deadline of February 1: ‘In order for this additional transition period to become effective, this proposal introduced by the European Commission must be formally adopted by the EU co-legislators. This means: the European Parliament and the Council of the EU must take the necessary steps […] The EPC recommends that all market participants in the euro area continue working towards meeting the 1 February 2014 deadline since the modification of the Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 has not yet been confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.’

Similarly, the German Ministry of Finance proclaimed that it will not need an extra six months, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine: ‘The original schedule is still feasible.’ This doesn’t mean that the German minister of Finance will vote against the proposal: ‘We will also look at the situation in other participating countries and will coordinate with all parties involved to make a joint decision.’

In Italy, the Banca d’Italia stressed the importance ‘for all categories of stakeholders […] to make every effort to meet the deadline of February 1, according to the plans that have been approved.’ The Spanish equivalent, Banco de España, also announced to work hard to meet SEPA requirements as soon as possible, although ‘penalties for entities and companies not adapted to the new payment system will be delayed’.

Les Echos analysed the situation in France, explaining why SMEs are reluctant to adapt to the new standards: ‘For less internationalised firms, the constraints of SEPA outweigh the benefits. Good news for them: February 1 is no longer a hard deadline to migrate to the SEPA format.’

The banks in the Netherlands issued a press release to state that the deadline in Februari is still leading. The migration of Dutch SMEs has reached its final stage and the biggest part the laggards can migrate before February 1, according to the Dutch central bank.

In general, most national financial authorities tend to stick to the original deadline, while proposal by the European Commission has not yet been approved – it even remains to be seen whether it will be confirmed before February 1. It does seem less likely, however, that penalties will be given to organisations that still make use of domestic payments after the deadline.