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Brussels, 23 July 2014
The right to a basic bank account for all European citizens: Commission welcomes Council adoption
The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the EU’s Council of Ministers of the Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account
The Directive will foster the creation of a real Single Market for retail financial services bringing numerous benefits to EU citizens by providing them with a right to a basic payment account irrespective of their place of residence or financial situation. The Directive will also substantially improve the transparency of bank account fees and make it easier to switch a bank account from one bank to another.
The Directive will now be signed by the European Parliament and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States will then have two years after its entry into force to implement the Directive into their national law.
Vice-President Michel Barnier, responsible for Internal Market and Services said: "We are very happy that the Council has confirmed its support for a very important piece of legislation. The Directive will help millions of consumers who often encounter difficulties in accessing a bank account in the EU, allowing them to better enjoy the benefits of the single market in this area and to participate fully in the economic and social life of
"Until now, many consumers were paying excessive fees for their bank account although better alternatives existed. Thanks to the new Directive, consumers will get clearer information about the fees they have to pay," Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica said. "People will be able to compare the costs of different accounts and switch to the better option more easily," he added.
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).