The European Commission has issued an initial report on its sector inquiry into the European payment cards market.  Based on responses from a broad range of players in the sector, the study reveals an absence of cross-border integration, with the 25 member states effectively forming 25 disconnected markets.  Both technical and cost related potential barriers for new entrants have been distinguished and it is estimated that the lack of a functioning internal payments market is driving up prices, costing the EU between euro 50 - 100 billion a year.  As an example, fees for business customers can vary by up to 500% for VISA cards and 650% for MasterCard from country to country.  The sector inquiry might lead to action being taken against individual companies.  Last date to comment on the findings is 21 June.

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