1. Envisaged benefits
The proposed EU rules will make professional transport of euro cash by road across borders within the euro area easier by replacing divergent national rules with a single set of EU rules. Nevertheless, national rules will remain in force for domestic transport of cash. The EU rules should help improve the efficiency of the cash cycle within the euro area.
Banks, retailers and other professional cash handlers will be able to benefit from increased competition between cash-in-transit (CIT) companies beyond national borders and from a wider choice of service providers. If they have branches on both sides of a border they will be able to benefit from integrated contract management and cash handling across borders.
CIT-companies will be able to optimise logistics of transport and cash handling and have access to a larger market in border regions.
Lower costs for CIT-companies and their customers and possibilities for better service will ultimately also benefit the consumer.
Professional cash transportation is generally carried out by dedicated CIT-companies, but the national regulations governing this sector are very different from Member State to Member State. Regulatory differences concern a wide range of issues such as armouring and equipment of the CIT-vehicles, number of staff in the vehicles, training requirements, the use of intelligent banknote neutralisation systems (IBNS), the possession and carrying of firearms by CIT-staff, information towards the police, licence rules and penalties etc.
Different national regulations work as a barrier to euro cash cross-border transport
The strong differences between the relevant national legislations make it generally very difficult to transport euro banknotes and coins between euro area Member States on a professional basis and very little cross-border land transportation therefore takes place. This is contrary to the principle of a single currency, according to which euro banknotes and coins should be able to circulate and be transported as freely as possible within the euro area.
It also means that the benefits of Eurosystem initiatives such as Remote access to National Central Bank (NCB) cash services, whereby a credit institution in one participating Member State may use the cash services of a NCB in another participating Member State, currently cannot be fully exploited.
The ECB, the banking sector and the large retail sector have also repeatedly called for the launch of an initiative aimed at lifting these obstacles to the free circulation of the euro.
Therefore, the Commission initiated consultations of stakeholders in the first half of 2008 to facilitate the professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road.
The Commission subsequently adopted on 18 May 2009 a White Paper to launch a broad-based consultation on a set of envisaged common rules for professional cross border transportation of euro cash by road between Member States in the euro area.
The White Paper was discussed in detail in a special expert group with representatives of Member States' administrations, which achieved a high degree of consensus on a set of common rules for euro cash transport.
In parallel, an external contractor was asked to estimate the size of the potential market for cross-border transport of euro cash. This should provide input for the assessment of the impact of a Commission legislative proposal in this area. The study finds an overal long-term potential for some 77 000 cross-border transports per year between the 11 euro area countries covered by the study. This is a large increase compared to the current situation.
3. Commission Proposals on the professional cross-border transportation of euro cash
After extensive consultations with stakeholders and Member States' experts, the Commission adopted on 14 July 2010 a proposal for an EU Regulation on the professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro-area Member States. At the same occasion it adopted a separate proposal for an EU Regulation that will extend the scope of the rules to the territory of Member States that have not yet adopted the euro as from the date when the Council decides that they are allowed to introduce the euro, that is to say from around six months before the changeover.
The purpose of the proposals is to ensure that euro banknotes and coins can be easily and safely transported by road across national borders between Member States that have adopted the euro or are about to do so. Once adopted, the Regulations will apply to all professional cross-border transports of euro cash by road. National rules will however remain in force for domestic transports of euro cash.
Due to the nature of the business, cash transportation is exposed to serious security threats. In order to ensure the security of the staff and of the general public, it is foreseen that a company that wants to carry out cross-border transport of euro cash must ask for a specific cross-border CIT-licence from its Member State of origin.
As a pre-condition, the company must be allowed by its national authorities to carry out domestic cash transports. Strict rules are moreover foreseen for, inter alia, the minimum number of staff, armouring of vehicles, training of staff, 'intelligent' neutralisation systems for banknotes (which neutralise the banknotes, for example by staining them with indelible ink, in case of unauthorised opening of the banknote container) and penalties in case of infringement of the rules.
4. Next steps
The Commission proposals will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, who must both adopt them in order for the new rules to enter into force. A transitional period of six months is thereafter foreseen in order to allow the concerned stakeholders and Member States sufficient time to adapt to the new rules.