Basic account for everyone (Directive)

The Commission wants to grant all EU citizens the right to have a payment account with basic features (basic account), make it easier to switch banks, particularly across borders, and improve the transparency and comparability of fees.


The right to a basic account amounts to the establishment of a universal service for bank accounts and may, at best, be justified if it gives rise to economic or socio-political benefits. It is extremely doubtful, however, whether such benefits exist EU-wide. The right to a basic account should therefore be introduced at national level, if at all. The reduction of obstacles to switching accounts and obtaining information on charges strengthens competition. The Member States' right to choose whether to stipulate that the basic account be free of charge, or subject to a "reasonable" fee, is unlikely to remove existing distortions in competition: it is therefore doubtful that the EU is competent to pass the Directive.