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 234.

    Bank accounts in their most basic form are OK, but anything beyond that involves risk to the provider as well as the consumer, and that will be reflected in charges across the board. Start giving add-ons, and customers won't know where they are. I reckon we should return to the days when you couldn't open a bank account anywhere without two references as to conduct and reliability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Went into my bank once to set-up my account. Lived/ worked/ travelled for over 8 years in over 20 countries in 6 continents. Tinterwebs and globally-connected ATMs are awesome inventions... easier than faxing a cheque.

  • 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 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 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!


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