MEP urges EC to ensure that COVID-19 is not used as pretext to reduce banking services for consumers

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Labour MEP Alfred Sant has called on the European Commission to ensure that an adequate level of banking services are maintained for consumers and to avoid the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to reduce such services.

In a parliamentary question tabled at the European Parliament, Alfred Sant said EU citizens have been experiencing a reduction of retail banking services across all levels to the detriment of lower income consumers and pensioners in particular.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly triggered the reduction of banking services and the European Commission needs to explain how it is acting to ensure that the pandemic is not used by banks to permanently reduce services for consumers.

Alfred Sant also asked the Commission whether it is considering initiating a system of conditionality for state aid to banks whereby banks receiving such aid are obliged to retain their level of retail banking.

The parliamentary question is being tabled at the same time as the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament is tabling a plenary amendment on the same topic upon advice by Alfred Sant.

The plenary amendment is tabled for the Annual Competition Report that will be voted next week in the European Parliament’s plenary session. It calls on the Commission to make sure that banks receiving state aid should be obliged to retain their full retail banking and consumer banking services and not be allowed to use the Covid-19 crisis as a pretext to permanently reduce such services. In the context of the Annual Competition Report, Alfred Sant has tabled a number of amendments including one proposing that state aid to banks should be accompanied by an obligation towards providing retail services to “small” clients, ultimately EU citizens.