Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Question 302: To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in view of the ban on credit and debit card surcharges required under the Consumer Credit Directive, the date on which he plans to commence section 48 and 49 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9286/12]
Question 303: To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he has been in contact with Minister Hoban in the British Government who indicated he wished to work with the Irish Government with a view to implementing a ban on credit and debit card surcharges by the end of 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9287/12]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 302 and 303 together.
I am assuming that the Deputy's question refers to the provision of fees for the use of means of payment at Article 19 of the recently adopted Consumer Rights Directive. This provides that:
Member States shall prohibit traders from charging consumers, in respect of
the use of a given means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the
trader for the use of such means.
Article 19 does not ban credit or debit card surcharges, but provides instead that such charges shall not exceed the cost to the trader of the means of payment in question. As such, it differs materially from section 48 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007 which contains a prohibition on surcharges where one method of payment is chosen in preference to another. Sections 48 and 49 of the Act clearly go beyond the provisions of Article 19 of the Consumer Rights Directive and, as the Directive is a maximum harmonisation instrument, it is not open to Member States to exceed its provisions. The commencement of sections 48 and 49 of the Consumer Protection Act is therefore not an option available to me in the context of the implementation of the Directive.
As I have previously indicated, it is my intention to implement the provisions of Articles 19 and 22 of the Consumer Rights Directive on payment charges and additional charges in 2012, a year ahead of the deadline of December 2013 set by the Directive.
I have not been in contact with the Financial Secretary to the UK Treasury, Mark Hoban M.P., or with any other Minister in the UK Government, regarding the implementation of Article 19 of the Consumer Rights Directive. There have been contacts at official level about the implementation of the Directive. While co-operation is advantageous in these matters, particularly between Member States with close economic and social ties, all Member States must obviously give full effect to the provisions of European Union legislation.