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Parliamentary question - E-002138/2023(ASW)Parliamentary question
E-002138/2023(ASW)

Answer given by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis on behalf of the European Commission

In the context of the work of the Commission’s Legal Tender Experts Group (ELTEG) and the impact assessment accompanying the Commission Proposal for a regulation on the legal tender of euro banknotes and coins, the Commission looked into the declining trends regarding cash access points, including the closure of bank branches.

In the euro area, the overall number of cash access points is starting to show decreasing trends, with an even clearer declining trend in the number of bank branches per 100 000 inhabitants on average[1], although trends vary across Member States, confirming the heterogeneous situation on the ground.

The Commission acted by including in its Proposal for a regulation of the Parliament and of the Council on the legal tender of euro banknotes and coins[2] a provision in Article 8 establishing the obligation on Member States to ensure sufficient and effective access to cash throughout their territory, in all their regions, including urban and non-urban areas.

Member States would have the obligation to monitor the access to cash, assess annually the situation in their territory and report their assessment to the Commission and the European Central Bank. If sufficient and effective access to cash is not ensured, Member States would need to take remedial measures.

Such measures could also include geographic access requirements on payment service providers providing cash withdrawal services to maintain cash services at a sufficient number of their bank branch offices where they conduct business.

The proposals to review the Payment Services Directive2[3] may further facilitate access to cash, as the proposal allows retailers to offer a cash provision service even in the absence of a purchase by a customer, without having to obtain a license or being an agent of a Payment Institution.

This is associated with some conditions, such as a cap of EUR 50 per withdrawal and an obligation to disclose any possible fees charged.

The proposal would also allow certain ATM[4] operators which do not service payment accounts to operate ATMs without licensing in order to simplify the provision of some ATM services.

Last updated: 14 December 2023
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