Commission basic account proposals - a missed opportunity says Panel

18 July 2011

The Consumer Panel has expressed disappointment with the European Commission's response to its consultation on access to basic payment accounts. The Panel is concerned that the recommendation of a non-binding instrument rather than a Directive will seriously weaken the proposals.

The Panel believes that basic banking services are essential everyday tools for consumers. In the UK alone over 1.5 million people still don't have a bank account denying them benefits such as lower cost transactions that other consumers take for granted.

Kay Blair, Vice Chair of the Consumer Panel, commented:
"The Panel was pleased with the Commission's original bold statement that all Europeans should be guaranteed adequate access to a basic bank account. We are therefore very disappointed that they have not followed this through with a directive.

In the UK there is a long track record of voluntary agreements in the financial services sector failing to deliver good consumer outcomes. You only have to look at the Banking Code regime which operated before regulation by the FSA to see the problems which can result.

It is regrettable that the Commission have not taken bolder action. At the very least they should monitor closely measures now taken by Member States to improve access to basic banking services. Vulnerable consumers must be able to access the services they need and the Commission needs to take action to ensure this happens."


Notes to editors

  1. The Financial Services Consumer Panel response to the European Commission consultation on basic payment accounts can be found on our website .
  3. In 2008/9 1,540,000 adults were without access to a transactional bank account (Source: Financial Inclusion Taskforce, December 2010
  5. The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and was initially established by the Financial Services Authority in December 1998. The Panel advises the FSA Board on the interests and concerns of consumers and reports on the FSA's performance in meeting its objectives.
  7. The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FSA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FSA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on our website.
  8. From the 1st April 2011 there are fifteen members of the Panel as listed below. Panel members are appointed to serve a maximum of two terms of three years. Further information on individual members.