New proposal for a Directive on the right of bank accounts for everyone

The single market legislation has ensured that banks can operate throughout the European Union and offer their services cross-border like European citizens are able to work and vote on municipal level cross-border. However their mobility was so far restrained when opening a bank account in another Member State or the easily switch from one bank to another. Moreover a lack of transparency regarding various fees charged used to be a daily challenge in the wish to participate in society. A bank account is an essential part of our everyday life to make and receive payments, shop online, and pay utility bills due to the fact that transactions in hard cash are declining. 

In this context on 8 May 2013 the European Commission published its proposal for a Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account.

The main aspects of the proposal are:

  • Easy comparability of payment account fees by banks and other payment service providers in the EU.
  • The establishment of a simple and quick procedure for switching payment accounts for consumers who wish to change from their payment account to one with another bank or payment service provider.
  • Indiscriminate access to open payment accounts without being residents of the country where the payment service provider is located and irrespective of their financial situation to allow them to perform essential operations, such as receiving their salary, pensions and allowances or payment of utility bills etc.

After a failure in the encouragement to self-regulate the sector regarding the simplification of access to basic bank accounts in July 2011 the European consumer protection organisations embrace the initiative by the Commission. The European consumer organisation – BEUC has been calling for such European laws for years as well as the Federation of German Consumer Organisations – vzbv.

However vzbv adds critically that a clear definition of minimum performances and a ban on excessive fees must be included in the directive. Furthermore, any discrimination of consumers while opening a basic bank account has to be prevented. Vzbv is emphasizing this area as the Commission’s proposal is limited to the fact that each Member State only has to offer one bank provider responsible for those basic bank accounts which could bring consumers in trouble when having a dispute with the provider, explains Gerd Billen, executive director of vzbv.


Further information:

Source: European Commission