Consumer rights groups have welcomed an EU proposal to that would give Europeans the legal entitlement to have a bank account.
Johannes Klein from the European Consumer Organisation said: “We welcome this proposal in any case, especially the aspect that the Commission is convinced that everyone should have a bank account. This is a success in itself, that was not obvious.”
“This proposal is actually already overdue. If one sees namely that 58 million consumers in Europe do not have an account and 25 million would love to have one, but have no opportunity to open an account, then the numbers are really scandalous,” he added.
The draft legislation, put forward by the European Commission, would also force banks to display their charges in a uniform way, making it easier for customers to compare.
It also suggests that banks should take responsibility for sorting out the red tape when people want to switch accounts.
Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: “The internal market is there to serve the consumer. Even though bank accounts seem to be something taken for granted, the statistics show otherwise. And there exists within the internal market too many obstacles, too much bureaucracy to open a bank account.”
The European Banking Federation, which lobbies for the interests of Europe’s banks, believes “some of the proposals are totally disproportionate to the actual needs.” It warns that cross-border account switching would be too costly for the industry to bear.