EU Card Fee Battle, MasterCard Wins

MasterCard has won the right to see a key study used by European regulators to set a European Union cap on cross-border card fees, according to Bloomberg.

The EU’s General Court ruled this week that the European Commission was wrong in 2011 to deny MasterCard access to the study, which compares the costs of bank cards with cash. The court said regulators couldn’t claim the findings were part of an antitrust investigation, and that they weren’t final or could be misused to influence its decisions.

EU regulators have targeted payment card fees for more than a decade, arguing that fees paid by retailers are inflated and raise consumer prices. Regulators said a final version of the report will be published in the coming weeks.

The ruling is a prelude to a series of bigger decisions in coming weeks. The European Court of Justice is due on Thursday (Sept. 11) to rule on MasterCard’s challenge to a 2007 EU decision forcing it to maintain reduced cross-border interchange rates.

That ruling could spur a stalled U.K. antitrust probe, and EU lawmakers and other governments are also discussing setting legal limits on card fees. The EU also started a probe last year into MasterCard’s charges on foreign card payments such as when tourists go shopping in the 28-nation EU zone.




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