20 November 2013

All banks should offer a basic bank account to EU consumers, members of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs(ECON) argue. This is one of the key elements of a report by Jürgen Klute (GUE-NGL, Germany) on the draft directive on bank accounts, voted on 18 November. MEPs have decided to submit the report to a plenary vote at the start of December, before beginning negotiations with the Council (co-decision).

According to the European Commission's text, member states would only be obliged to ensure that at least one bank on their territory offered such an account, which makes no sense and risks falsifying competition, MEPs believe. Also, all banks should offer a payment account, which provides basic services, such as cash withdrawal facilities, and payment operations in the EU.

Also, MEPs want more legislation on access to a basic bank account across the entire EU than is provided in the initial proposal. The Commission has proposed that those who reside legally in the EU should have the right to open an account that provides basic services in all member states, independently of their place of residence. MEPs argue for the following measure: when someone residing in a EU member state wants to open a basic bank account in another member state, the request cannot be refused if the person has a link with that country, for example he is looking for a job there, said a source. This measure was introduced by MEPs from the EPP, ECR and ALDE groups.

The text also provides for measures to facilitate switching accounts from one bank to another within the EU.


Backing for bank accounts for all
21 November 2013
European Voice

Members of the European Parliament’s committee for economic and monetary affairs on Monday (18 November) backed a proposal that would enshrine the right of every EU citizen to have a basic bank account with a debit card.

The draft directive, which was presented by the European Commission in May, would also introduce greater competition into retail banking markets by requiring banks to be more transparent about their fees and by making it easier for consumers to switch accounts.

The full Parliament is expected to vote in December on whether to open negotiations with member states on the proposal.

“Banks should not be entitled to exclude citizens from society by denying them access to regular payment services,” said Jürgen Klute, a German MEP from the United European Left group who drafted the European Parliament’s stance on the proposal. “In times where banks are forced to look for profit in retail banking, it is also vital to enable consumers to compare fees and switch accounts easily when they find better offers.”

In 2013, almost 60 million EU citizens over the age of 15 did not have a bank account, despite nearly half saying that they want one. Given the prevalence of electronic payment methods, the absence of a bank account can make it impossible to receive a salary, transfer money or make a purchase over the internet.

The degree to which citizens have bank accounts varies between member states. Only 3% of citizens over the age of 15 in the UK do not have a bank account, compared with 29% in Italy and 55% in Romania.

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