From 9th December next bank charges for credit and debit card payments are to be slashed under a Regulation capping banking interchange fees, saving consumers and businesses as estimated €6bn annually across Europe.
But it seems that the Commission failed to realise that December is the biggest retailing month of the year and instead to having this reduction in bank fees kick in from 1st December, it will only kick in on 9th December costing Irish retailers an extra €1.4m and business across Europe an extra €230m in banking fees.
Denis Naughten had sought to bring forward the date for the introduction of cuts to charges for small electronic payments to 1st December on the basis that it is the start of the Christmas season.
However, Minister Noonan when questioned on the issue in the Dáil yesterday said that the implementation date of 9th December was agreed between the EU Commission and the Banks and could not be brought forward here in isolation.
“Clearly the European Commission was dreaming about what Santa Clause would bring when it failed to realise that the last week in November is significant in terms of online sales and the main Christmas shopping season kicks in from 1st December and not nine days later,” stated Denis Naughten.
“I am disappointed this measure is being delayed until 9th December as it is taking money out of people’s pockets and an extra €1.4m out of local retailers’ pockets, which will impact on jobs in every town in Ireland.
“The retail sector in Ireland employs 280,000 people and is the largest sector in the local economy throughout Ireland. The reality is that the Christmas shopping season starts on 1st December and runs right through to 24 December so I cannot understand why the EU Commission let the banks pull the wool over their eyes and not introduce this measure from 1st December.
“Had the EU Commission been more conscious of the needs of local shops this would mean an additional boost of approximately €1.4 million in savings to retailers across this country, many of whom are struggling to keep their doors open. It would be a significant support for them in the run up to the Christmas period and would help and promote electronic transactions.
“It now seems that Banks across Europe have put the Commission on the naughty list while they cream an additional €230m bonus from struggling retailers and shoppers on the run up to Christmas,” concluded Denis Naughten.