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SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG (Germany)

Worldcrunch

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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