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EU Proposal: Having A Bank Account Should Be A Basic Human Right



BRUSSELS - Freedom of speech, right to a fair trial, access to public education and ... a checking account for every citizen?

In the future every EU citizen should have the right to a basic bank account, according to proposed European-wide legislation, reports German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. The proposed measure is expected to be put forward in June by Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner responsible for internal market and services.

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Inside a Societe Generale branch in Paris (Benh LIEU SONG)

The EU Commission said the aim of the legislative package was to establish the legal basis for “a basic social right,” Süddeutsche Zeitungreports.

Currently more than 30 million EU citizens 18 and over have no bank account, which means that in many cases they cannot enter into certain contractual agreements such as the lease on an apartment or service contracts with telecommunications companies. The draft legislation argues that not having access to Internet makes these citizens unable to shop inexpensively online and thus benefit fully from the advantages of the European internal market.

According to the draft, there would (with some exceptions) be no service charges on these basic payment accounts.

Most of those without accounts live in eastern Europe: in Romania and Bulgaria, for example, only one in two people has an account, while in central and western Europe, one in ten citizens has no account.

Barnier's legislation would also make it easier to change banks, and financial institutions would be required to present their fees and conditions in a transparent and easy comparable way.

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Migrant Lives

Latin America's Migrants Trying To Reach The U.S.: Risk It All, Fail, Repeat

Searching for a safe home, many Latin American migrants are forced to try, time after time, getting turned away, and then risk everything again.

Photograph of thousands of migrants marching  to the US-Mexican border under the rain.

06 June 2022, Mexico, Tapachula: Thousands of migrants set off north on foot under the rain.

Daniel Diaz/ZUMA
Alejandra Pataro

BUENOS AIRES — With gangsters breathing down his neck, Maynor sold all of his possessions in Honduras, took his wife and three kids aged 11, 8 and 5, and set out northwards. He was leaving home for good, for the third time.

"I had to leave my country several times," he said, "but was deported." He was now trying to enter the U.S. again, but the family had become stuck in Mexico: "Things are really, really bad for us right now."

Migration in Latin America is no longer a linear process, taking migrants from one place to another. It goes in several directions. Certain routes will take you to one country as a stopover to another, but really, it's more a lengthy ordeal than a layover, and the winners are those who can find that receptive, welcoming community offering work and a better life.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls this an international, multidirectional phenomenon that may include recurring trips to and from a home country.

Marisol Quiceno, MSF's Advocacy chief for Latin America, told Clarín that migrants "are constantly looking for opportunities and for food security, dignified work opportunities (and) healthcare access." These are the "minimum basics of survival," she said, adding that people will keep looking if they did not find them the first time around.

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