Euro bank payments to UK to become significantly cheaper

European Commission says transfers will now be charged as domestic transactions

European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis announcing cheaper cross-border payments and fairer currency conversions for consumers. Photograph: EPA

European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis announcing cheaper cross-border payments and fairer currency conversions for consumers. Photograph: EPA


Making bank payments between the Republic and non-euro EU member states will, by the end of the year, become significantly cheaper following a new cross-border consumer initiative by the European Commission.

All payments in euros between euro zone states and EU states that do not use the euro will have to be charged by banks at the same low rate as domestic transactions – currently such requirements only apply to transactions within the euro zone.

The Commission estimates that the legislative process should be completed in time for the new rules to come into force from January 2019.

The Commission has also developed new transparency rules and competition in currency conversion services to help consumers get the best value when buying goods or services abroad in the EU. Card payment terminals in shops, for example, will be required to show purchasers which currency, the euro or the local currency, is better value for their transaction.

The credit transfer regulation will mean, for example, Valdis Dombrovskis, commission vice-president for financial stability and financial services said, that a cross-border credit transfer in euro from Bulgaria will be priced the same as a domestic Bulgarian lev transfer. Currently “fees for a simple credit transfer can be exorbitant in some non-euro area member states, up to €24 for a transfer of €10,” he said.

Restrictions and excessive costs affecting cross-border payments are an impediment to the completion of the single market, the commissioner told journalists.

The European Banking Authority will be tasked with drafting the necessary regulatory technical standards to implement the enhanced transparency requirements. Pending implementation over three years, the commission will set caps on the level of charges banks may make for currency conversions.

Online content

Building on its popular ban on roaming charges last year, the Commission has also announced cross-border consumer measures to allow travellers to access online content to which they have subscribed at home wherever they are in the EU.

In the past, many European consumers could not access online content services they had legally bought in their home country when travelling within the EU. This was especially the case for films, series and sports broadcasts.

From Sunday, April 1st, this will no longer be the case.

The services covered include content services that are already available online in the home country and that have been paid for by subscription or individual purchase or that are available free of charge if the service provider chooses to be covered by the new rules.

For example, a Swedish subscriber on holiday in Italy trying to watch her favourite TV series using her Home Box Office (HBO) Nordic account will now enjoy the service as if she was in Sweden, instead of seeing a message saying that the service “is only available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland”.