Can we see light yet? C’est pas…

With many predicting the end to SEPA migration somewhat prematurely following the release of a European Commission draft regulation (such as here), today as an industry we are still waiting for the green light from the European Parliament to finally push implementation of SEPA instruments and take volumes into double percentage figures for the first time. There are already signs of ‘SEPA fatigue’ where those that poured resource into an anticipated rollout are now finding it too costly to continue (see here).

However, despite the ECON committee’s near unchanged acceptance of the EC draft early before the summer break (more here), there seems to be a real lack of urgency to get it on the agenda at a Parliamentary plenary session. With the agendas now published through until mid-September, the SEPA debate still fails to appear – despite Plenary tackling tough economic topics such as budgetary surveillance and measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in euro area, there appears to be no room for SEPA.

So does this lack of urgency suggest an overworked plenary or perhaps an underlying lack of political commitment towards a purely political initiative. Clearly there is considerable lobbying over this draft – some public (here) and some not so. MEPs tabled over 95 amendments to the draft prior to the debate in the ECON committee, the majority of which were rejected often by narrow margins. Perhaps the ongoing behind-the-scenes lobbying is stopping this from Plenary debate, but given the stake that all European citizens have in the payments system, is it fair that this continues?

Will we see a SEPA end date regulation before the end of 2011? I think most likely we will. And given the persuasive power of the Commission, it will likely follow the form of their original draft – but stranger things have happened in Plenary and it will certainly be a debate worth following, when it’s finally scheduled!

Update 16 September: Still no sign of SEPA on the Parliamentary agenda. This kind of delay usually suggests a lot of backroom lobbying or an apathy towards the topic. 

And finally. As the year comes to an end, we have our deadline – February 2014 – http://www.finextra.com/news/fullstory.aspx?newsitemid=23271

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