25 April 2007 | Antony Barton
MEPs yesterday adopted a legal framework designed to make cashless payments between EU states simpler and cheaper.
The Payment Services Directive (PSD) is the first step to ensuring every transaction is as inexpensive and secure as national payments. Until now, cashless deals have worked to different rules in each member state. The PSD will harmonise payment services across the EU and lay the legal foundations for the Single Euro Payments Area (News, 12 April 2007).
Sharon Bowles, Liberal Democrat European economics spokeswoman, said a quick resolution for PSD had been essential: "I have been astonished at how difficult it has been to try and get out of the dark ages on payment times, capital regimes and electronic money.
"The question I have most often been asked is 'will it make payments cheaper', not 'will it make payments safer'. This is not a price regulation directive, but it should make payments cheaper through greater competition and through greater transparency."
A deal with the European council means the legislation will come into force at this first reading stage, giving the banking industry the time it needs to change its payment systems by 2010.