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 106.

    This is not news. Bank accounts have been open to non residents for some time. I have one in Euros for business and holidays and it works just fine. - UK resident

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Amazing how the desperate europhiles are grasping at this straw as a "benefit" of EU membership when it is a cinch to open a bank account in Europe, and has been since the removal of exchange controls way before the EU existed.

    I bet most of them bank with Santander :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    That's FANTASTIC news!

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

    There's only one place which can really benefit from this, a save haven from the risk of having your money nicked by Brussels

    A German bank account

    ...although they do have a bit of history where expropriation is concerned, particularly in a crisis

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    What another terrible stupid waste of an idea. What benefit does this provide to anyone anyway? Another example for me as to why the EU is now a total shambles and I for one would prefer not to be part of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    The EU protects workers against economic forces which would otherwise have us in a 'race to the bottom.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    That's what I was thinking, but then I realised that they'd probably slap the fines onto the near empty account, putting it into the red, then keep charging fees+interest. Then in 10 years time you'd have the bailiffs knocking on your door for a £50'000 debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Good news, credit where credit's due: well done EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    The well intentioned goals of The Commission will have unforeseen consequences: Fees in other areas to make up the shortfall in revenue, and costs associated in implementing these measures.

    If the EU truly wanted healthier banking they'd remove: Bailout guarantees, Free money from the ECB, and Permission to practice fractional reserve banking (insolvent trading and embezzlement).

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Another EU propaganda article from the BBC.

    I have had a bank account in Portugal for 10 years and had no difficulty at all opening it. I have online access and all the other facilities I have with UK accounts.

    It has nothing to do with the EU so let's stop pretending that Brussels is doing anything useful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    P J Proudhon

    I quite agree with their behaviour being reprehensible - that is how banks work I'm afraid! I would have removed all my money first (leave just 1 centime) and then written to them requesting closure and given them back all cards etc. If they ignore that then they have no comback.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    So you could live in another EU country permanently with no intention of ever leaving but still happily open a bank account here (and several others in other EU states)? Subject to UK KYC & AML regs I hope or it's going to be a field day for money laundering and fraud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    So it takes the EU to do something about the banks does it? Think on little Englanders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    So, what this means is that countrys that do not provide the same guarantees/protections for account deposits can move their money to say UK banks, get all the benefits which are guaranteed by UK TAXPAYERS, & not spend a penny in UK economy.

    How does this work with ConDems policy to split UK banks into commercial & domestic banking when the EU is just going to internationalise domestic banking

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    About time too!

    These (insert term of abuse) bankers must learn to live in a free market system and not in their private protected cartel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I smell a Franco-German plot against the British!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Although there will be difficulties with this, charges and exchange rates to be considered, and things to be ironed out, it is infinitely easier to move money between accounts in Europe than it is in the UK. This will mean UK banks will have to pull their socks up or face losing business customers who trade in Europe. It starts with a basic bank account' but this is only the thin edge of the wedge

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    This is a very good idea. This, and all the other things we take for granted would disappear if we left the EU.

    Be carefull what you wish for ... you'll only notice all these benefits when they're gone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I lived in Spain for 14 years and the bank I had there was far better than anything I ever had in the UK. Maybe I will send my money back!

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    76 - sannudayiki. "...about 15% overall..."

    Agreed, but the reason that the electorate believe that its more than 15% is the fact that the EU Law & Directives are not passed into UK Law as it is originally intended. The original is "modified" & "gold plated" by UK Government & Civil Service. The original is (by design) made complicated & very often costly to those who adhere to the Directive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    This will be very interesting and will be intersesting to see how currency flows across the union. Yet another benefit of EU membership !!!


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