16.02.11: Combating late payment in commercial and health transactions
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular to Article 114 thereof, The European Parliament and Council have approved DIRECTIVE 2011/7/EU.
Many payments in commercial transactions between economic operators or between economic operators and public authorities are made later than agreed in the contract or laid down in the general commercial conditions. Although the goods are delivered or the services performed, many corresponding invoices are paid well after the deadline. Such late payment negatively affects liquidity and complicates the financial management of undertakings. It also affects their competitiveness and profitability when the creditor needs to obtain external financing because of late payment. The risk of such negative effects strongly increases in periods of economic downturn when access to financing is more difficult.
A particular cause for concern in connection with late payment is the situation of health services in a large number of Member States. Healthcare systems, as a fundamental part of Europe’s social infrastructure, are often obliged to reconcile individual needs with the available finances, as the population of Europe ages, as expectations rise, and as medicine advances. All systems have to deal with the challenge of prioritising healthcare in a way that balances the needs of individual patients with the financial resources available. Member States should therefore be able to grant public entities providing healthcare a certain amount of flexibility in meeting their commitments. For that purpose, Member States should be allowed, under certain conditions, to extend the statutory payment period up to a maximum of 60 calendar days. Member States should, nonetheless, make every effort to ensure that payments in the healthcare sector are made within the statutory payment periods.
(26) In order not to jeopardise the achievement of the objective of this Directive, Member States should ensure that in commercial transactions the maximum duration of a procedure of acceptance or verification does not exceed, as a general rule, 30 calendar days. Nevertheless, it should be possible for a verification procedure to exceed 30 calendar days, for example in the case of particularly complex contracts, when expressly agreed in the contract and in any tender documents and if it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.