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Bank accounts to be ‘cheaper and accessible to all in EU’

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European citizens will be able to open a bank account in any EU country and compare fees and charges from providers, under new proposals.

The plans, announced today by the European Commission, will also make it simpler and quicker for consumers to switch providers and give companies additional incentives to offer products cross-border and enter new markets.

The measures follow research by the Commission that compared the prices for payment accounts in the 27 EU member states. It found very significant variations in prices, both within and across member states.

It also revealed that while single market legislation has ensured banks can operate throughout the EU and offer their services cross-border, citizens were often unable to open an account in another member state or to easily switch from one bank to another.

Under the proposals, the Commssion wants consumers to have access to a payment account with basic features whatever their place of residence in the EU or their personal financial situation.

Member states would have to ensure that at least one payment service provider offered a payment account with basic features in their territory and they would have to inform the public about the availability of these payment accounts. The payment services provider cannot use the financial situation of the person as a reason to refuse an account.

Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: “In today’s world, not having access to a basic bank account makes everyday life difficult and more expensive. Today’s proposal will finally give all European citizens access to a basic bank account and enable them to participate fully in the society they live in and take advantage of the benefits of the Single Market.”


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