David Song, Principal, EU Personal Finance Policy, UK Finance
Today, it is remarkably easy to pay in euros with a single card and payment account when travelling, shopping online or transferring money to someone living in another European country. A large part of this is thanks to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which is an area in which consumers and businesses are able to make and receive payments in euros, whether between or within national boundaries under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location in Europe.
The European Payments Council (EPC), which is not part of the EU institutional framework, supports European payments integration through the development and management of the pan-European SEPA schemes. These schemes offer consumers and businesses the assurance of common rules and maximum execution cycles for their euro payments. From a consumer perspective they support individuals working and studying abroad, those who have retired to another EU country or with second homes. For example, a euro account in the UK can receive a salary earned in Spain or be used to pay a recurring utility bill in France.
The area in which the SEPA payment schemes (for euro credit transfers and direct debits) are available is broader than the EU and includes over 34 countries (including the current 28 member states of the EU). For the full list of countries please see here.
UK Finance is supporting its members in their efforts to retain access to key euro payments systems such as the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in order to ensure SEPA payments can still be made. UK Finance has formally made an application to maintain participation in SEPA on behalf on the UK financial services and payments industry.
The application takes the form of defined criteria determined by the European Payments Council by reference to its published criteria for non-EEA country participation which can be found here. From our ongoing conversations with EPC members it’s clear that the SEPA community support the UK remaining in the schemes and the EPC has previously published a position paper publicly supporting the UK’s continued participation in SEPA, which can be found here.
UK Finance’s application is currently going through the governance process of the European Payments Council and a formal final determination of the UK’s continued participation in SEPA will be made by a final EPC Board decision on 7 March 2019. We anticipate that our continued participation should be smoothly achieved.