Bank accounts will be 'open to all' in EU

Shredded documents The plans are designed to make bank charges clearer to customers

European residents will have the right to open a basic bank account in any country of the EU and compare the fees charged by providers, under new plans.

The European Commission is outlining proposals to make it easier for customers to compare charges and switch to another bank.

At present, many consumers find it difficult to open an account in another EU country where they are not resident.

The Commission also hopes to reduce the numbers who do not have accounts.

It estimates that about 58 million consumers across the EU, aged over 15, do not have a payment account. The levels vary hugely across different states of the EU.

Swift switching

Only France, Belgium and Italy have laws in place that ensure people have access to a basic bank account in line with the proposals.

The plans would mean anyone could open an account, even if they have been made bankrupt or unemployed, with at least one provider. This would allow them to perform basic operations such as to receive their salary, pensions and benefits, or to pay utility bills.

The Commission also wants banks to send information to customers that lists the fees for common services, and the charges that have been levied in the previous 12 months.

It also plans to set down rules that ensure an account is switched for free within 15 days between providers in the same country. The UK is already going further, with a speedier seven working-day switching plan.

The Commission wants to see free switching between providers in different EU countries to take place within 30 days.

"By making it easier to compare fees and change bank accounts, we also hope to see better offers from banks and lower costs," said EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Yes, this is important. It's also important to do away with all the extra charges that are incurred when you withdraw your money in a foreign cash machine, or use your credit card in another EU country. Everthing's electronic these days and in a common market, there should be nothing from banks which discourages consumers and workers from accessing their money in other EU countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Great news, but if the UK pulls out, tough luck. It seems the UK really does not know what it wantys. Many eec laws give individula many rights that the UK government did not want them to have. Think hard before you pull out...

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Wow. Great idea and what the EU should be all about.

    UK banks need to pull their socks up and fast!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    64 Quite, they are just another of the many who think money is something that just grows of its own accord in a bank without any risk being taken with it but don;t want to take the risk themselves.
    As those in Cyprus discovered - high interest = high risk .

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    "Bank accounts will be 'open to all' in EU"

    That's FANTASTIC news!

    I'm going to put all my hard earned cash into a Cypriot bank account tomorrow


  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    This sounds good. With the facility of online banking this will open up opportunities to get a far better deal.

    We're tired of being held hostage by people charging us 18% for borrowing and giving 0.008% for saving whilst earning huge bonuses.

    Maybe this is the kick in the pants the banking fat cats and their Tory flunkies need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    This is long overdue! Many employers refuse to take on new staff if new applicants do not already have a bank account. No bank account = no job. Since the unemployed are hitherto denied the opportunity to open a bank account, etc., how can any society ever hope to improve the general economy and social conditions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I know for the facts that some foreigners would have left their UK bank accounts in debt when they left our country. There was a UK businessman drunken driver hit-and-run in Taiwan, he ran back to the UK to escape the punishment. Local people were very angry, but nothing can be done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    But is forcing UK banks to give current accounts to Bankrupts or unemployed from anywhere in the UK or the wider EU is surely not going to be a vote winner? Next will come issue of exchange rates and fees for non Euro markets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    I once had a bank account in France, Credit Agricole, When I returned to the UK I attempted to close the account on a multitude of occasions without success. The reason? They ignored all my letters and wouldn't close the acct until they'd drained every last cent in spurious fees and charges after which they closed the account. This behaviour is reprehensible. Damned banks of whatever country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    #13 Let's nail this one on the head, following Lawson's waffle yesterday;l've just read a Parliamentary research paper on the impact of EU law and directives on EU countries, including UK. Only about 15% overall of UK legislation derives from EU, not 50%, not 80%, just 15%. Look it up. Slightly higher % in agriculture,vet,health and safety, but that's a good thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Not overly sure how this will wor successfully.

    Euro to Euro will work fine, but transfers from Euro to Sterling just isn't going to work as you could potentially lose out on the exchange rate.

    Not sure this has been totally thought through yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Hot chef: perhaps you are right. We are a city of 13 millions with an economy bigger than Holland and some of us are sick to death of having the government held hostage by a bunch of unhappy folks who have no better entertainment for themselves than blaming Europeans ad nauseam. I might sound arrogant but you lot sound like a broken record. PS. Though a Lab voter, I respect an elected PM. Ukp?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    58 million aged over 15?

    Thats probably as there still in education and don't yet need a current account, but most likely have a savings account if they have one at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Very good stuff!

    The fact that there are many residents of this country who can't open a bank account, and can't get a job because they don't have a bank account makes you wonder why this hasn't happened sooner.

    Probably somthing to do with Govs city chums not really being up for it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Once again we see that the free market delivers only for business and not for consumers let alone wider society/governments......

    .....can we please end the pretence that business knows best? After all both Adam Smith & John Maynard Keynes both agreed that business AHD to be REGULATED otherwise it'd eat itself.....

    ....businesses are inherently greedy - they MUST be regulated......

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Fantastic idea!! Let's all dash off the Greece or Cyprus and put all our money at their disposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    This is aimed at a fairly marginal element of the market as surely the fees will kill true cross-border banking for ordinary basic banking Europeans.
    The principle of everyone being guaranteed one basic bank account with a bank in their own country is sound (another way to ensure that those who have ID issues can satisfy money laundering rules is long overdue).

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    What? Genuine competition in banking?
    Who are these people thinking up these ideas - capitalists?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    If you take the individual motivations this needs to be thought about from a UK wide perspective.
    It is difficult to assess whether this is an opportunity or an risk for the nation as a whole.
    If everyone moves their money overseas to seek better interest rates then there will be no money to lend and the banking system fails.


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