We lost a major player in European payments on Saturday 1 February, with the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. A key and powerful player, an innovative and pioneering player in many cases, and a player convinced of the importance of a business model to support the digital revolution.
This is a major collective failure, which should not prevent us from moving forward and pursuing our objective of “major, decisive and bold steps towards European sovereignty” in payments and to avoid new departures of European players.
However, we must remain ambitious, and put forward our objective of a “seamless” Europe of payments (“seamless” would say our English friends) and the ability of the European payments industry to take up the digital challenge, and to build champions able to compete with the American or Asian monsters.
This will certainly not be as easy as it was with our British friends with us. But, ‘don’t cry over spilt milk’, it is sad but it is done. And there was nothing we could do to stop it.
However, we will have to remain vigilant, especially during this transitional phase, to establish a future high-level partnership, if that proves possible, and also to avoid possible future distortions of competition. As the public authorities and Paris Europlace for our banking and financial activities have reminded us, we are indeed entering a negotiation phase, with :
- on the one hand, a review of the equivalence regimes that will take place in the first half of 2020. It is our collective responsibility to identify the points of attention and priorities, particularly in terms of activities, competitiveness/level playing field, regulation/supervision, in our area of payments.
- And on the other hand, when it comes to trade relations and a possible (and desirable) free trade agreement, we also need to identify the operational issues and possible risks of circumvention, but bearing in mind that we will greatly benefit from good trade relations with the UK and that here too we need to focus on the most strategic issues for our European payments market, in order to better establish our future partnership with our British friends.