About 30 million adult EU citizens do not have a bank account, including the homeless and people with a low or irregular income. In a resolution adopted on 4 July, MEPs say that everybody should have access to basic banking services and call on the Commission to tackle this financial exclusion.
The majority of MEPs believe that legislation is needed at EU level because previous Commission recommendations have led to results in only a few countries. However, some MEPs argue that decisions about attracting prospective customers should be left up to the banks themselves.
What is being proposed
Jürgen Klute, a German member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left, was responsible for steering the resolution through Parliament. In his report he wrote that banks and other institutions offering payment accounts should not be able to refuse granting such an account on grounds such as low income, type of employment, credit history, or level of indebtedness. Payment service providers should be required to ensure that among the products that they offer the basic payment account is always the most affordable account for basic transactions. The resolution also asks the Commission to submit by January 2013 a proposal for a directive ensuring access to basic payment services to all consumers legally residing in the Union.
The basic account would allow a person to carry out any essential payment transaction such as receiving income or benefits, paying bills or taxes, or buying goods and services.
7% of the EU's adult population - about 30 million people - do not have a bank account
6.4 million of those have not asked for a bank account or have been deprived of it
The member states with the highest percentage of citizens without bank accounts are Romania and Bulgaria: about 50% of the adult population