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 286.

    Sally: "money has "a store of wealth of a period of time" characteristic which fiat lacks"

    Money does not have that characteristic and never has, it is nothing more than a medium of exchange. Wealth is about you use the money to achieve, for some about what assets the money buys but money of itself is a depreciating thing and loses value unless you use it (thanks to inflation)

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    You're right about Schiff, bar one key aspect: he's not an economist. He's a trader. That's why his views are based in fact, not theory. Experience, not text books. Von Mises (the little I've read) is especially interesting.
    Keynsian theory is difficult to fit into its modern interpretation (Krugman certainly has butchered it) yet is flawed nonetheless.
    I'm not an economist.
    I work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    A few fines for rigging LIBOR is hardly justice. The Banks aren't just to big to fail, Keynesians are now afraid they're to big to Jail!

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    48. paulmerhaba

    Is it hard for Europeans to open an account in the UK?


    At present, sadly, yes. Even when, as in my case, this comes with a stable job and the cleanest of credit histories. And, once you have managed to open it, you find that any operation with the EU costs silly money, and that UK interest rates, e.g. on credit cards, in my native Country are outlawed as loan sharking!

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    This is about traceability and control of money for tax purposes, it also gives the banks power over when you can get your money, should the government decide to do a wealth grab as they did in Cyprus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    I do agree with you.
    But, Peter is most certainly an economist, from the Austrian School - same as Hayek, Hazlitt, Mises, Menger, Bastiat, Adam Smith...
    I ate his book up: Crash Point 2.0. So good. You could youtube him all night butchering Keynesians.

    Here's a real howler:

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Great if the government does not stop this. Who can trust the UK banks. It took the US to force the FSA to take action over the LIBOR scandal as the FSA closed their eyes. Rip off britain. Gordons mate at the head of the FSA got away with this, incredible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.


    You're dead right about Peter Schiff, but then he's not an economist.
    He just gets it.
    There are few people who understand more than (or are as prescient as) Peter Schiff, Reggie Middleton, Gerald Celente, a few others.
    None of them are economists per se.
    But then, what is an economist?
    They seem more akin to snake oil salesman than any other 'profession' I could think of ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Peter Schiff is pretty prescient! Watch and laugh :)

    Gold. Xx

    I guess we'll have to a agree to disagree.
    Just because the law says so, doesn't make it right.
    And fiat cash is not money, money has "a store of wealth of a period of time" characteristic which fiat lacks. It is merely currency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    You have to question what we really need and is this just a misdirecting smokescreen.

    Choice is good. Too much choice means nothing. We've learnt that competition is not a sole answer.

    What we need are banks that work as banks.

    They take deposits at reasonable rates and they lend actively to reasonable borrowers (not just for mortgages).

    None of this proposed stuff seems to address the issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    This will make the likes of RBS etc ripping off their customers with next to no interest for savers. I am sure many will want to move their savings to safer and higher paying banks in the rest of the EU but I am sure the UK will try some protectionist fiddle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Economists specialise in telling you why what they said yesterday would happen today didn't happen.
    You may just as well trust the anthropomancy of an Etruscan haruspex.
    'The market' is nothing but a euphemism for the aggregation of human activity & will always trump any theory, especially in hindsight, which is the stock-in-trade for any economist.
    Understanding, & caring about, people is all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Legally, MP's are not bungible.....but we all know how much that counts for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    #267 legally grain is not a fungible asset (old shipping law as grain may have gone off or have a different water content), gold is, wine most definitely is not (many cases on that), silver might be (it can oxidise whereas gold cannot).

    As asset is fungible is one example is and always will be identical in all respects with any other example of the same asset.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    If mighty Rothbard cannot do it, I feel my attempts would only be futile also.

    But, I will ask you this. If it's illegal for you to counterfeit, why do you permit it in your banking? If FRB expands the currency supply exponentially, what gives it value? Does the newly created money only attain value by diluting the value of people already holding money? How is this moral?

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    Yes indeed - the transition from Mainwaring to Mafia is complete.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    260. insert_name_here

    I fail to see how being able to have a bank account in another country is going to make a solitary scrap of difference to the ordinary man/woman in the street.


    It does if the bank allows to do all account management and operations electronically, using the account from here. in Europe, banking costs are often much lower than in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    - open bank account in EU country
    - wait a bit (for some crisis to happen)
    - listen to promises of your money being safe
    - wait a bit (like a silly fool)
    - see others running to ATMs to get their money
    - run to ATM
    - oops, too late, all switched off
    - wait some more
    - listen to EUocrat inform you how much an unwanted (financial) haircut is going to cost you
    - wish you banked in UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Sally and Fiscal Prudence - i've never seen a conversation in which hayek and bastiat are mentioned on bbc comments. you should look out for the user who posts under the name 'bastiat,' I think you'd like! Finally as I mentioned earlier, frb is perfectly acceptable in a free market as long as people are aware of the risks involved in banking. even rothbard couldn't convince me it was fraud!

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    263. Ketchup
    For us we have fraud, counterfeit, embezzlement, conversion & insolvent trading laws. But, if u can get away with it, it's as lucrative as it is dishonest. No wonder bankers pay politicians to exempt them from these laws.

    259. Fiscal
    A great story.

    253. Justin150
    I beg to differ: gold, Grain, wine, silver, wool, salt, is all fungible:


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