In a resolution this week, the European Parliament has urged the European Commission to present a legislative proposal on access to basic banking services by the beginning of 2013. About 30 million people in the European Union do not have access to a current account. Even a non-binding recommendation of the Commission to the banks could not alter the situation.
The refusal to let people have access to a current account entails many negative consequences to those concerned: looking for a job or a flat is made significantly more difficult; bank transfers have to be made in cash and every single one incurs an extra charge.

As the competent rapporteur of the European Parliament, Jürgen Klute of the German Left explains, there are some countries such as Denmark or Belgium that set a positive example and offer basic accounts without restrictions. Basic current accounts should be cheaper than all other products offered by banks, and bureaucratic hurdles when an account is opened should be avoided.

The account should enable the account holder to have his salary and other credit items paid into his account; it should also provide him with the option to pay bills and to print account statements.

The resolution was accepted with a clear majority of 585 to 68 votes. Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier reacted positively to the request of the European Parliament. One may therefore hope that the European Commission will publish a legislative proposal on a basic current account in the coming months.