Magazine article European Social Policy

Basic Banking Services : Barnier Commits to Presenting Binding Text to Ep

Magazine article European Social Policy

Basic Banking Services : Barnier Commits to Presenting Binding Text to Ep

Article excerpt

Since the soft approach has failed, the European Commission has committed to presenting, in November 2012, binding rules to guarantee access to a bank account for people who are deprived or excluded because of their social, financial or geographical situation.

That is what the Commissioner for the Internal Market and Financial Services, Michel Barnier, announced, on 3 July, one day ahead of the European Parliament's plenary vote on the resolution on access to basic banking services.

"To begin with, we played the dialogue and contract game with the member states. But the Commission's 18 July 2011 recommendation(1) had contrasted effects: only a few member states - such as Belgium and Italy - put our proposals into practice, while others - around ten in total - did nothing at all. That is why Parliament's initiative has come at the right time," said Barnier, adding that he would use the Parliament's suggestions as inspiration for his legislative proposal.

Currently, 7% of EU consumers (ie 30 million people) do not have access to basic banking services. Seven million of these people have had their application rejected by payment service providers.

PARLIAMENT'S RECOMMENDATIONS

Parliament's own-initiative report, adopted with a very wide majority on 4 July, calls on the Commission to present a draft directive by January 2013 based on a detailed evaluation of the situation in the member states.

MEPs consider that the future directive should allow all consumers legally residing in the EU to have access to a bank account to carry out any essential payment transaction, such as receiving income or benefits, paying bills or taxes, buying goods and services, making cash withdrawals and printing account statements both remotely or in person.

Criteria, such as low or irregular income, type of employment, credit history or level of indebtedness, should not be taken into account in the decision to open a basic payment account. …

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