Access to a Basic Bank Account for Everyone

Citizens without a permanent address face problems opening a bank account. This bill will enforce access for everybody to basic features of a bank account.

How did we get here?

Surveys and complaints from consumers demonstrate that citizens in the EU have been facing difficulties in opening a payment account. They are struggling with the lack of a permanent address in the state where the bank is located. This problem mainly affects EU consumers living in another Member State (12.3 million people in 2010). Furthermore, the World Bank estimated that about 58 million EU consumers do not have a payment account and about 25 million of them would like to open one. The lack of transparency and comparability of bank charges and the difficulty of switching bank accounts are obstacles to the completion of the internal market for retail banking. A survey conducted by Eurobarometer in 2012 showed that only 3% of the respondents declared having opened a payment account cross-border.


Why is this important for me?

Because you can open a bank account. Always, everywhere in the EU. The plenary of the European Parliament agreed that holding a basic payment account shall be in no way discriminatory. Each citizen, including homeless people and refugees, should have access to a bank account in every Member State, since nowadays a life without bank account and possibility for online banking is nearly impossible.


What's the content?

The European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection published a proposal that was amended by the European Parliament, led by rapporteur Jürgen Klute (GUE/NGL, GER) from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. With this bill, being eligible for a basic bank account is not connected to the applicant’s nationality. No discrimination will be made visible, i.e., through a different appearance of the card or a different account or card number. A permanent address is no longer needed to open a bank account.

Banks will provide a comprehensive and free information document that states the fees for all services linked to the account. An independent and free website will be established in each Member State allowing comparison of fees charged and interest paid by banks, as well as their level of service.


What's happening with this bill in the future?

The matter was referred back to the competent committee by the plenary giving the European Parliament's negotiators a strong mandate to fine-tune the law with Member States. In Trialogue they reached an agreement with the Council representatives and the bill then was formally approved by the Parliament's plenary and published in the Official Journal in August 2014.


Related Bills:

Financial Transaction Tax: Making banks pay for the crisis

Too big to fail: Structural Reform of EU Banking Sector

Public list of company owners to fight money laundering

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