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European Parliament basic bank account vote - a life-belt for millions of consumers

04 July 2012
by BEUC -- last modified 04 July 2012

The European Parliament today voted for binding European rules to make basic payment accounts available to all EU consumers. These should offer most basic payment functions, be free of charge or reasonably priced and open to all existing and new bank customers.


A year after the European Commission's non-binding recommendation, The European Consumer Organisation now urges them to respond to MEPs' call and make the right to a basic payment account mandatory throughout Europe.

Approximately 30 million Europeans do not have a bank account and so are deprived of leading a normal life in our societies. Essentials such as renting accommodation, getting a job, receiving social welfare or paying bills are often more time-consuming and costly or can amount to insurmountable challenges for someone without a bank account.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, commented:

"Turning down a person who wants to open an account amounts to denying this person a normal life. This is intolerable in today's Europe and legislation is urgently needed. Our banks and legislators must realise that a bank account is an essential service which should work properly for all of Europe's consumers."

"A cheap and simple bank account would fit the bill for most bank customers, yet they are too often plagued by pricey and packaged accounts containing often useless services. Banks should offer all their clients the possibility to change to a simple bank account which extends only the most basic services."

"MEPs rightfully call on the European Commission to bring in laws to make bank account fees more transparent and make switching easier so that consumers can compare prices and shop for a better deal."

BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation has a membership of 42 well respected, independent national consumer organisations from 31 European countries (EU, EEA and applicant countries). BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for these organisations and its main task is to represent our members and defend the interests of all Europe's consumers.

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation