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Brussels, 3 November 2009

Banking: Consumers to start benefiting from easier bank account switching from November

From 1 November 2009 consumers in the European Union should find it easier to switch their current account from one bank to another within their own Member State. This improvement is thanks to a set of 'Common Principles for Bank Account Switching' which was adopted by the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC) ( IP/08/1841 ) last year and have now been implemented in the Member states by the national banking associations. From now on, whenever consumers wish to switch their current account to another bank, the new bank will offer its assistance throughout the switching process.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner McCreevy said: "I am pleased that national banking associations have taken their self-regulatory agreement seriously and worked to ensure that the Common Principles are ready to be applied by 1 November. We will be extremely vigilant to ensure that these Principles are effectively applied on the ground."

According to the information which was provided to the Commission by the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC), all national banking associations, with the exception of Romania, have taken steps to implement these self-regulatory Principles in their respective Member State. The application of the Principles will be delayed in Portugal and Poland by 1 and 2 months respectively. Most national banking associations reported that there will be no fees imposed on consumers for switching.

In the Common Principles on Bank Account Switching adopted by the European banking industry in December 2008, if a consumer wishes to change bank, the new bank will act as main contact point and offer its assistance throughout the switching process. It will deal with the old bank, ensuring that the transfer of the client's recurrent payments, such as direct debits and standing orders, are done smoothly and rapidly. Finally, the new bank will assist the consumer in closing the old account and transferring the remaining balance to the new account.

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