Brussels, 6 February 2009
Financial inclusion: Commission launches public consultation on ensuring access to a basic bank account
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on "Financial inclusion: Ensuring access to a basic bank account". This initiative is a follow-up to the 'Single Market for 21st Century Europe' package (IP/07/1728), where the Commission highlighted the need to ensure that nobody is denied access to a basic bank account. Views from all interested stakeholders are welcome by 6 April 2009.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "Evidence shows that today many Europeans are still not guaranteed access to a basic bank account, leading to a greater risk of economic and social exclusion and preventing them from enjoying the full benefits of the Internal Market. We are determined to explore ways to remedy this situation. This public consultation will allow the Commission to gather views and ideas on this issue in order to assess whether an EU policy response is needed."
Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, added: "The issue at stake is to ensure that everyone in the Union, including those in poverty or social difficulty, has access to a basic bank account which is effective, fair and reasonably priced."
A recent Commission fact-finding study on "Financial services provision and prevention of financial exclusion" showed that in some Member States there are no mechanisms in place to guarantee citizens' access to a basic bank account. This is an important factor in economic and social exclusion, as was highlighted at a conference organised by the Commission in May 2008 (IP/08/805).
In its staff working document on initiatives to be taken in the area of retail financial services, accompanying the Communication A single market for 21st century Europe, the Commission invited all stakeholders to reflect on how to ensure that, by a certain date, nobody is denied access to a basic bank account.
The consultative document contains a description of the levels, causes and consequences of financial exclusion in the EU. It also presents various policy solutions to address financial exclusion that exist in some Member States, and discusses the possible role for the EU in guaranteeing access to a basic bank account. Finally, it invites stakeholders to express their views on the possible roles which could be played by all stakeholders, both private and public, in achieving this goal.
The Commission encourages all interested stakeholders to participate and invites them to respond to the consultation by 6 April 2009.
Further information is available at:
Video News Release on 'Access to financial services - the impact on financial inclusion':