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Bank account holders [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for bank account holders.

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Pointing out on a business finance report, planning together in a discussion on an office table as team of coworkers

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Bank accounts are an essential part of everyday life, allowing us to manage our money, shop online, and pay bills.

Despite continuous efforts to integrate financial services further, European citizens often still find it difficult to open an account in another EU country or to change banks. In addition, bank fees are sometimes high and not particularly transparent.

Thanks to the Directive on Payment Accounts, anyone residing legally in the European Union has the right to open a payment account with basic features (cash withdrawals and payment transactions) in any EU country. In addition, the Payment Services Directive introduced a set of rules to improve the level of transparency for fees for payment services. The Directive on Payment Accounts builds on this and provides for several tools (such as independent websites that compare the payment account fees charged by different banks) to make fees clearer to us, the consumers, and to allow us to make more informed choices.

Lastly, the Directive on Payment Accounts addresses the issue of payment account switching: until recently, bank customers wishing to change bank payment accounts could face delays or other problems when trying to transfer recurring payments – such as standing orders – from one account to another. To remedy this, the directive establishes a quick procedure for those who want to switch their account from one bank to another in the same EU country and provides that, in cases of account-switching between two EU countries, the bank hosting the account to be closed must assist in the process.

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