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    18/06/2014  
 
   
Late payments: Commission seeks clarifications from Italy and Slovakia

 
 

The Commission decided to seek clarifications from Italy and Slovakia on their application and implementation of the EU's Late Payment Directive. The request for information in both cases takes the form of a letter of formal notice under EU infringement procedures.

Late payments constitute a major obstacle to the free movement of goods and services in the Single Market. They can impede cross-border trade and distort competition. Every year European businesses go bankrupt waiting for their invoices to be paid. Late payment has therefore a negative effect on the entire European economy.

The Late Payment Directive can be of considerable help to companies, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which constitute 99% of all EU businesses. Adopted in 2011, the Directive responded to a real need to switch to a culture of prompt payment.

According to the Commission Italy is not applying the Directive correctly in practice. The Commission has received a number of complaints which highlighted the fact that in Italy the public authorities take on average 170 days to make payments for services or goods provided, and 210 days for public works. Slovakia provides for a dual system for late payment interest rates, a fixed one and a variable one. The Commission has doubts on the compatibility of this system with the late payment directive.

 

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Late payments by Italian and Slovak public bodies have unfortunately still not improved since both countries incorporation of the Late Payment Directive into national law.  Late payments are clearly unacceptable and affect the liquidity and livelihood of thousands of enterprises doing business with public bodies.

SMEs find it particularly difficult to stand up for their right to prompt payment. Late payments mean SMEs lose time and money, and disputes can sour relations with customers. This damaging payment culture has come to end giving SMEs the vital support they need in these difficult times and helping them fulfil their key role in European job creation.


 
Vice-President of the European Commission Antonio Tajani    
 
 
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