Answer to Written Question: Closure of bank branches
(Source: European Parliament)
Answer given by Ms McGuinness
on behalf of the European Commission
Closures of branches, sometimes coupled with an increasing digitalisation of banking services, is a general trend observed throughout the EU. These are the result of managerial decisions taken by banks regarding their commercial policy, and remain outside the scope of competence of the Commission. Nonetheless, while promoting the use of digital payments, the Retail Payments Strategy emphasises the need to maintain availability and acceptability of cash also in order to prevent financial exclusion. In this regard, an expert group set up by the Commission as part of the strategy will seek technical input from Member State experts on the issues of acceptance and availability of cash to ensure a healthy and efficient circulation of cash in the EU.
The Payment Account Directive provides the right to a payment account with basic features and requires Member States to ensure that such a basic account is offered by all credit institutions or a sufficient number of credit institutions to guarantee access thereto for all consumers in their territory. However, it does not set any requirement for a specific number of bank branches in a Member State or region. The Commission services are currently assessing the implementation of the Payment Account Directive in the Member States and are preparing a report on the application of the Directive.