For almost a decade, payments in euros across Europe (e.g. bank transfers and direct debits) have been reliable, simple, quick and inexpensive thanks to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) schemes rules which underpin such transactions. Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (the Crown Dependencies – CDs) have participated since 2016 and will continue to do so after Brexit.
The European Payments Council (EPC) is the private sector body which manages the SEPA payment schemes. The geographic scope of the SEPA schemes includes several non-EU/EEA jurisdictions (1). Once a jurisdiction has been admitted to the geographic scope of the schemes, individual payment services providers (PSPs – banks and other financial institutions) in the jurisdiction must apply to the EPC if they wish to participate in the schemes.
Inclusion of non-EU/EEA countries and territories in the geographic scope is subject to strict criteria, including a requirement that the jurisdiction has a “strong economic and legal relationship with the EU”. Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (the Crown Dependencies – CDs) were admitted to the geographic scope of the SEPA schemes in May 2016, having been assessed as fully complying with the criteria.
UK Finance, the trade body representing UK PSPs, recently applied to the EPC to continue participation in the schemes after Brexit in the event of no deal. The EPC announced that this request was approved by the EPC Board at its meeting on 7 March 2019, subject to the UK’s continued compliance with the EPC’s SEPA scheme participation criteria.
The EPC Secretariat has confirmed that the Board neither challenged nor questioned the continued inclusion of the CDs in the SEPA schemes for as long as the CDs continue to comply with the EPC criteria. In advance of the meeting, the CDs provided the EPC with an update on the legal relationships between the CDs, the EU and its Member States.
(1) The geographic scope is: the 28 EU Member States, the three EEA-EFTA Member States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.