As many as 6 to 7 million citizens across the European Union are excluded from having a basic bank account and in total, around 30 million consumers over 18 years of age do not have a bank account. The consequences are that these citizens cannot fully benefit from the Single Market. In addition, existing bank account holders can find it difficult to change their bank account to another bank or simply compare fees charged by their bank with other financial institutions.
On Wednesday 8 May, the European Commissioners Michel Barnier, in charge of Internal Market and Services, and Tonio Borg, in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, will unveil a proposal for a Directive that will address these obstacles faced by consumers in Europe.
The proposal will make it easier to compare fees charged by banks and other financial institutions and it will establish a simple and quick procedure for consumers who want to change their bank accounts. Finally, the Directive aims at allowing all European consumers to open a payment account which will make it possible to perform essential operations.
It is not the first time that the Commission has addressed these issues, but it is necessary to have more comprehensive and legally-binding measures on payment accounts thereby making the Single Market work properly in this respect.