C 161 E/2 (2003/C 161 E/002

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Official Journal of the European Union WRITTEN QUESTION E-3681/01 by Mary Banotti (PPE-DE) to the Commission (16 January 2002) Subject: Bank charges for cheques in euros

EN

10.7.2003

Given that we now have a common currency for 12 Member States, what measures does the Commission intend to take to prevent excessive clearance charges by banks for cheques used within the Eurozone which emanate from Eurozone Member States?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission (12 February 2002) Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 of 19 December 2001 on cross-border payments in euros lays down the principle of equal charges for strictly domestic payments in euros and for crossborder payments in euros. The principle applies to card payments and withdrawals from automated teller machines as from 1 July 2002 and to transfers as from 1 July 2003. The Commission had initially proposed that this provision should apply also to cross-border payments by cheque. Parliament and the Council decided not to take up its proposal. The two main arguments put forward were: cheques, as a domestic means of payment, are in the process of disappearing in several Member States; cheques are not suited to being an automatic cross-border means of payment. The explanation is given in recital 8 to the Regulation, which reads: At present, it is not advisable to apply the principle of uniform charges for paper cheques as by nature they cannot be processed as efficiently as the other means of payment, in particular electronic payments. However, the principle of transparent charges should also apply to cheques. The principle of aligning charges laid down in Article 3 does not, therefore, apply to cheques. However, Article 4, which concerns the information to be provided to customers on the cost of using different means of payment, has been applicable since 1 January 2002. A specific measure for cheques is to be found in the second subparagraph of Article 4(1): Member States may stipulate that a statement warning consumers of the charges relating to the crossborder use of cheques must appear on cheque books. Accordingly, under Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001, banks that agree to the cross-border use of cheques (1) must inform their customers of the charges for such operations.
(1) OJ L 344, 28.12.2001.

(2003/C 161 E/003)

WRITTEN QUESTION P-0212/02 by Bruno Gollnisch (NI) to the Commission (30 January 2002)

Subject: Persistence of exchange rates within the euro Union It is now two years since the official introduction of the euro in the form of cheques and postal orders, and one month since the introduction of euro notes and coins throughout the Union. All exchange rate charges between banks within the euro zone should have disappeared, but the fact is this is simply not so.