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Brussels, 15 April 2014
The right to a basic bank account for all European citizens: Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption
The European Parliament has today adopted in plenary session the Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account.
The Directive is a major step towards a real single market for retail financial services bringing numerous benefits to EU citizens. By providing for a right to a basic payment account irrespective of a citizen's place of residence or financial situation, the obstacles faced by many in accessing basic banking services across borders are removed. The Directive also substantially improves the transparency of bank account fees and makes it easier to switch a bank account from one bank to another.
Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: “With this vote, we are making a real difference to the lives of millions of EU citizens by giving them access to a basic bank account so they can easily receive a salary or pay their electricity bill for example. This new right is essential to allow all citizens to participate fully in the economic and social life of a modern society. Consumers will also find it easier to compare fees and change bank accounts. I would like to pay tribute to the rapporteur, Jürgen Klute, and the shadow rapporteurs, for their commitment to this important file. I am sure the Council will formally adopt the legislation in the coming weeks.”
Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica said: "I am very satisfied with today's vote in the plenary session of the European Parliament. Greater transparency in the area of payment accounts, particularly relating to fees charged, will make all our lives simpler. It will help us compare offers to find the best deal. At times such as these it is important that every euro we spend is well spent. The Payment Account Directive will help achieve this and bring real benefits to peoples’ daily lives."
Key elements of the agreement
The Directive tackles three principal areas:
Bank accounts are essential for participating fully in the economic and social life of a modern society, since the use of cash is rapidly decreasing. They have become an indispensable part of our everyday life, allowing us to make and receive payments, shop online, and pay utility bills (telephone, gas, electricity). However, according to reliable studies, around 58 million EU consumers over the age of 15 still do not have a payment account.
Furthermore, research showed that consumers found it difficult to compare offers and prices for payment accounts from different payment service providers. Even when comparison is possible, the process for switching from their existing payment account to a different one is complex and unreliable. Moreover, there are situations where EU consumers are still unable to open a payment account in a Member State where they are not resident or if they do not have sufficient financial resources.
In order to address these issues, on 8 May 2013, the European Commission adopted the proposal for a Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account (IP/13/415).
See also MEMO/14/300.