Right to a basic bank account for all European citizens

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The European Parliament has adopted the Payment Account Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account. Negotiators of the European Parliament, the EU Commission and the Member States agreed on the fact that every EU citizen should be entitled to have a payment account. All EU consumers, without being residents of the country where the credit institution is located and irrespective of their financial situation, should be provided with a right to open a payment account that allows them to perform essential operations, such as receiving their salary, pensions and allowances or payment of utility bills, make and receive payments or shop online.[1]


By providing for a right to a basic payment account irrespective of a citizen's place of residence or financial situation, the obstacles faced by many in accessing basic banking services across borders are removed. The Directive also substantially improves the transparency of bank account fees, makes it easier to switch a bank account from one bank to another and assists consumers who hold a payment account with a bank and want to open another account in a different country.


In case the proposal is approved by the plenary of the European Parliament and subsequently approved by the Council, the Member States will have a maximum of two years (until spring 2016) to implement the Directive into national law.


[1] Press release 15/04/2014, European Commission – STATEMENT/14/123.