The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an initiative of the European banking industry in response to the need to create a single market for payments in euro, where citizens and companies can make payments easily, safely and efficiently, just as they do today within their own country, using a single account and a single set of homogeneous payment instruments.
This initiative allows individuals, companies and other economic agents to make payments in euro, both nationally and internationally, under the same basic conditions and with the same rights and obligations, regardless of their location.
The SEPA area includes the 27 member countries of the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland.
The SEPA project provides users of bank transfers, direct debits and credit and debit cards in these 32 countries with a single set of standards and rules. As a result, all payments - domestic or cross-border between SEPA area countries - have been equated in terms of simplicity, security and efficiency. SEPA is a reality that allows the use of these instruments for payment transactions in Spain and with the rest of the SEPA area.
To this end, Regulation (EC) 260/2012 has established technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro that take place between EU countries. One of the main consequences of this legislation is the obligation to use common instruments across the EU. From 1 February 2014, all credit transfers and direct debits in Spain and the rest of the eurozone will be SEPA-only. And from 31 October 2016 for the rest of the SEPA zone member countries.
The European Payments Council (EPC) has defined these SEPA instruments for credit transfers and direct debits, together with a set of rules and standards in ISO 20022 format that must be respected by the parties involved.
For this purpose, SEPA logbooks of the banking standards and procedures are defined, which allow the issuance of SEPA credit transfers or direct debits, in accordance with the applicable European legislation.