Bank accounts will be 'open to all' in EU
- 8 May 2013
- From the section Business
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.
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.