The European Parliament voted today to give the right of access to a basic bank account at little or no cost to up to 30 million EU residents who want an account but who have not so far been able to obtain one.
Holders of a basic account will be able to lodge and withdraw money at bank branches and ATMs, transfer money and make payments online, but will not have access to overdrafts.
EUFFI president Jim Murray strongly welcomed today’s developments and said “This vote will help those who are “living the single market” by studying, working or living cross-border, and many others who for one reason or another have no bank account where they live. Nowadays, for most people a bank account is a gateway to other services and an essential element for full participation in modern society. I congratulate the rapporteur, German MEP Jurgen Klute, and his parliamentary colleagues for this progressive vote. ”
Supporting and extending the Commission’s proposal, the parliament recommends that Member States should require payment service providers generally to offer a basic payment account option to those who need it. The report also calls on Member States to take measures to raise awareness regarding the availability of the accounts, especially in relation to unbanked, vulnerable and mobile consumers.
At the launch of the EUFFI study on new payment technologies in June 2013, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, stressed the importance of financial inclusion, adding that “there can be no sustainable economic development if there is no social cohesion.”
Focus now turns to the Member States of the EU, who under the co-decision making process also need to agree before the act can be formally adopted. The Lithuanian Presidency has been holding regular meetings to discuss the dossier, and it is hoped that a general approach will be agreed in the coming weeks.