EC PANEL AIMS TO FACILITATE TRANSFER OF PAYMENTS

EC PANEL AIMS TO FACILITATE TRANSFER OF PAYMENTS

The European Commission Wednesday unveiled measures to foster faster and cheaper transfer of payments across the 12-nation European Community.

Sir Leon Brittan, EC commissioner for financial services, said the plan aims to make cross-border payments as cheap, quick and reliable as the best of those within any member state.To show how difficult exchanges can be now, Sir Leon cited a small British firm that incurred bank charges of $51.50 on a $82.50 check for a pump shipped to a French customer. The bank then returned the check saying it was ''uneconomical" to collect.

The commission is suggesting four measures: The development of consistent legal and technical standards; clarification of competition rules applying to banks seeking to set up cross-frontier networks; easy and competitive access to telecommunications systems, and easing reporting requirements for statistical purposes.

Sir Leon said such arrangements are needed to cope with the EC single market in 1993 and the single European currency later in the decade.

The commission cannot improve payments through directives, Sir Leon said.

"The handling of over 200 million European cross-border retail payments cannot be transformed by some legislative magic wand."

Instead, the commission will act as a catalyst, underscoring the problems and bringing together companies such as banks and users of payments systems to resolve them, he said.