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Parliamentary questions
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28 February 2019
Answer given by Ms Bieńkowska on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-006202/2018

As confirmed by the study on the effectiveness of national measures to combat late payment in Business to Business (B2B) transactions(1), unfair payment practices and clauses relating to payments are still widespread in the EU. Also, smaller businesses often accept unfair payment conditions out of fear of losing their business partners and future contracts.

This situation hampers the effectiveness of Directive 2011/7/EU(2). As pointed out in the Commission’s Implementation Report of 2016(3), the flexibility that the directive maintains to safeguard the freedom of contract between businesses is being exploited by larger companies ‘to dictate unfair contractual terms to smaller suppliers’.

The Commission has put in place a strict enforcement policy of Directive 2011/7/EU, both between public authorities and businesses and between businesses. Infringement procedures have been opened and an active dialogue with Member States and businesses is maintained.

However, the practice demonstrates that legislation alone is not enough to combat late payment. Next to strict enforcement, a decisive shift towards a business culture of prompt payment(4), more transparency in payment behaviour and better education of businesses on their rights are needed.

To this purpose, the Commission is currently examining measures and practices with the view to build a prompt payment business culture in Europe.

In the framework of the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan, the Commission has launched a study to gain a better understanding of the financial processes and solutions available in the market(5).

The study will collect data and identify best practices and hurdles for the development of faster payment solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises.

(2)Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions.
(3)COM(2016) 534 final.
(4)Recital 12, Directive 2011/7/EU.
(5)Supply Chain Finance.

Last updated: 5 March 2019Legal notice