EP Approves Right to Basic Bank Account for All EU Residents
Anyone legally residing in the EU would have the right to open a basic payment account, under a new law passed by European Parliament on Tuesday.
This law, which was approved by 603 votes to 21, with 51 abstentions, should also ensure that fees and rules for all payment accounts are transparent and comparable and make it easy to switch to another payment account that offers better terms, the Parliament's press release stated.
Parliament inserted a requirement that basic payment accounts must be offered by enough credit institutions in any given EU country to guarantee both easy access for all and competitive offers. These offers would not be limited to banks that only provide online services.
In each EU member state, there should be at least one independent website comparing the interest rates and the fees charged by banks. Banks would also be required to inform their clients that they offer basic payment accounts.
Basic payment accounts would enable customers to pay in and withdraw cash and execute payment transactions within the EU, including transactions through a payment card and online. Customers would be able to execute an unlimited number of such operations, either for no fee or for a reasonable fee. However, member states may decide that such accounts should not include overdraft facilities, or to limit the amount of such overdraft facilities.
To benefit from the best offers, customers should be able to switch to another bank account in the EU for a reasonable fee. Switching between bank accounts in the same currency and country should be done by a receiving bank at the request of the account holder or holders, with their authorisation.
Banks would be obliged to refund any financial loses resulting directly from faults in the switching process without delay.
To take effect, the new rules must be officially approved by the member states, which will then have 24 months to transpose them into their national laws.
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