Good news for people who buy goods and services online from other European countries. Finance ministers in the 27 EU member states have agreed new rules to make cross-border payment services for online transactions easier.

The new payment services directive, set to come into force next year, will provide the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) . It is expected to be fully implemented by 2010.

The directive will cover transactions using electronic transfer and online payment services as well as payments through traditional banking methods. SEPA will also ensure that payments across national borders using a credit or debit card, or electronic transfer, are as cheap and easy as transactions within member states.

SEPA is expected to be fully implemented by 2010.