MacManus calls for clarity from EU on right to use cash

Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the EU’s proposal to protect the use of cash, but called for the right to use cash to be respected and clarified immediately.

Replies received from the European Central Bank (ECB) and EU Commission by MEP MacManus are at odds with the replies received by Minister Michael McGrath about the right to use cash. MacManus said pending upcoming legislation, the right to use cash must be respected and clarified immediately.

MacManus said: “While I welcome the intent behind recent moves by the EU Commission to legislate to protect cash the reality is that the rules will take years to put in place even if all goes smoothly politically.

In the meantime, there is a need for clear guidelines to clarify and protect the right to use cash. In a written reply to me the ECB cast doubt over the Irish government’s position that simply putting up a sign saying “no cash” or “card payments only” means a business can refuse cash.

In its reply to me on the issue the ECB stated that: “It may also be argued that, despite such a sign being present, the two parties have not agreed freely on another means of payment. It also needs to be considered that, should they become widespread, such “no cash policies” of merchants could undermine the legal tender status of euro cash, which is protected by EU law, and hence undermine trust in euro banknotes and coins as a means of payment.”

The EU Commission in a reply to me has also stated its intention to legislate for: “the mandatory acceptance of cash, at full face value”.

This stands in direct contrast to Minster Michael McGrath’s insistence that “Where retailers accept a limited range of payment options, consumers should be informed of the payment options available in advance of a transaction. This can be achieved, for example, by displaying signs stating, “card not accepted” or “cash payment only” at the till and at the store entrance.”

Clearly the stand back and do nothing approach of the government is open to challenge to say the very least.

The plans at both domestic level and at EU level are welcome but these plans may take years to come into effect. Given the differing interpretations of the current situation I believe the use of cash should be protected and the right to use it insisted upon in the meantime as a rule.”