Recent developments in the EU, including bank accounts; mortgage credit; tax evasion; collective redress

Right to bank account

On 8 May, the European Commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier, announced proposals to give every EU citizen the right to a basic bank account. The draft reforms will require national governments to ensure their citizens have access to an account offering basic services, regardless of their financial situation or where they live in the EU. Account holders may have the right to a debit card but not necessarily overdraft facilities.

The proposal also aims to speed up the time it takes citizens to switch from one bank account to another, with a proposed time limit of 15 days, extended to 30 days if the banks are based in different countries. The Commission also hopes to introduce standard guides relating to fees, creating overall fee transparency. The proposal will need agreement from the Parliament and Council.

Mortgage credit directive confirmed

The European Parliament and Council have agreed on rules on mortgage lending. The directive, still to be formally approved, aims to create a genuine internal market for mortgage credit with a high degree of consumer protection. It seeks to address irresponsible lending and borrowing through increased transparency and obligations on provision of pre-contractual information, as well as new principles for marketing and advertising. Creditors and credit intermediaries will also be obliged to assess the creditworthiness of the consumer.

Tax evasion tops the agenda

In the latest development in the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax planning, EU leaders discussed options for automatic exchange of information and increased administrative co-operation between member states, at a Council meeting on 22 May. At the same time they gave the Commission a mandate to open negotiations with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino to pave the way for an agreement on a revision of the Taxation of Savings Income Directive by the end of 2013. The Council also endorsed the Commission’s Action Plan Against Tax Evasion, presented in December 2012.

Collective redress mechanisms

On 12 June, the European Commission outlined a set of common, non-binding principles for collective redress mechanisms in member states, to enable citizens and companies to enforce their rights when there has been an infringement of EU law. The recommendation aims to provide a coherent and horizontal approach to collective redress in the EU without any harmonisation of national systems.


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