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Action 7: Fix a date for migration to Single European Payment & eInvoicing

Ensure the completion of the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA), if necessary, by binding legal measures fixing an end date for migration before 2010 and facilitate the emergence of an interoperable European eInvoicing framework through a Communication on eInvoicing and by establishing a multi-stakeholder forum.


What is the problem? Need for Pan-European credit transfers and direct debits

A fully implemented Single European Payment Area (SEPA) could generate net benefits of € 123 billion over six years for the market as a whole. Pan-European payment instruments, such as SEPA credit transfers and direct debits, will reduce the costs of payments, increase competition and make cross-border payments as easy as domestic ones.

…. and to ensure eInvoicing savings

Replacing paper invoices by e-invoices across the EU could lead to roughly € 240 billion in savings over a six-year period, according to studies. On the basis of these savings, the Commission wants e-invoicing to become the predominant method of invoicing in Europe by 2020.


Why is EU action needed? To drive the process and increase uptake

The Commission took three key steps in this process in December 2010.

For SEPA, it adopted 16 December 2010, a proposal for a Regulation setting EU-wide end-dates for the migration of old national credit transfers and direct debits to pan-European SEPA instruments by 2014. This proposal for a Regulation has been negotiated in the course of 2011. A general agreement was reached in the Council in June 2011. The European Parliament – Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs published its report on 6 September 2011. Since then, Trilogue negotiations have taken place and good progress has been made with regard to a final compromise text. The final voting on this dossier in the Plenary of the European Parliament as well as in the Council – under Danish Presidency – is foreseen in February 2012. In case of adoption, the Regulation will get into force in the first half of 2012.

More detailed information can be found here.

The Commission's work on payments has been pursued with a Green Paper on an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments, adopted on 11 January 2012. 

More details on the Green Paper and the public consultation can be found here.

On eInvoicing, the Commission adopted a Communication on 2 December 2010 defining a set of tangible actions to facilitate the uptake of e-invoices in Europe. The Commission also called on Member States to set up national multi-stakeholder fora on e-invoicing and easier and established a multi-stakeholder forum at European level.

The first meeting of the European multi-stakeholder forum took place on September 2011. A comprehensive work programme with four activity streams has been adopted by the members of the group. Intermediate results of all activities will be discussed in the second meeting which will take place around March 2012. At the time of the meeting, 16 national fora had been formally set up, namely in the following Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

More detailed information on the first meeting of the European Forum is available here.


What will the Commission do?

By end 2012:

  • Once the SEPA Regulation has been adopted by the Council and the European Parliament, both institutions, the Commission will thoroughly monitor its proper implementation.
  • Responses to the Green Paper on an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments are welcome until 11 April 2012. On the basis of a thorough analysis of the consultation feedback, the Commission will announce the next steps to be taken before the summer of 2012.
  • Implementation of actions in the e-invoicing Communication and monitoring implementation of the actions of other stakeholders.
  • March/April 2012: second meeting of the European multi-stakeholder forum on electronic Invoicing.