Over the past years, European citizens are witnessing a phase-out of cash services, enforced by a number of EU Member States and private, often non-EU operators. This is despite the crucial role that cash still plays for citizens and many business branches, including Cash-in-Transit services. The Social Partners CoESS, ESTA and UNI Europa have therefore taken action and signed a Joint Declaration on the need to safeguard cash. They call on the European Union to follow the examples of Denmark and Norway and to strictly enforce the legal tender status of cash.
Despite digitalisation and trends of online payments, cash still plays a crucial role in the functioning of today’s societies’.
Particularly poorer people, but also our youngest and eldest citizens as well as foreigners rely heavily on cash. Access to cash is fundamental for many people to participate in social life. It is a public good, in contrast to electronic money, which is controlled by private entities.
Further, cash creates hundreds of thousands of jobs across Europe – in Central Banks, cash management and ATM industries, vending and of course Cash-in-transit businesses, to name only a few. In volume, cash still amounts to 79% of all payments.
However, European citizens are witnessing that access to cash is progressively inhibited. Bank branches are closing, cash services are reduced, and restrictions in the use of change money make the use of cash increasingly difficult. Cashless payments are the new trend, with severe consequences.
In some EU Member States, this development is even driven by national governments – often for the false argumentation that cash facilitates fraud. In reality, it is rather the opposite as many studies show. Countries like Sweden that show the fastest pace of cash phase-out have also experienced the highest growth rate of card fraud (+18%) during the same period.
This ‘war on cash’ has severe consequences: the privatization of public money; increasingly restricted access to cash especially among disadvantaged populations; a restriction of consumer rights; and the loss of jobs and businesses from private security to financial services, printing, logistics and commerce.
In their statement, CoESS, ESTA (corresponding member of CoESS) and UNI Europa therefore jointly call on the EU to enforce legislation that guarantees the availability of cash, universal acceptance of cash payments, and sustainability of cash cycles. Important initiatives have already been taken in that regard by a number of countries like Denmark and Norway. The EU must follow suit.
The Social Partners commit to organise a roundtable discussion on the topic in 2020, promote collective agreements and bargaining to fight the war on cash, and propose regulatory tools that ensure the sustainability of the cash cycle.
You can find the full joint statement here.