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A year ago, the European Commission made a 'non-binding recommendation' that access to basic bank accounts should be mandatory across Europe. The European Parliament have now voted to make the rule binding, and make basic bank accounts available to everyone in the EU.

The 30 million Europeans who don't have a bank account could really benefit from this - as they are currently deprived of leading a normal life, according to EUbusiness. They can find it more difficult - and sometimes impossible - to get a job, rent accommodation, receive welfare payments or pay bills without a bank account.

Under these new EU rules, basic bank accounts should offer basic payment functions, be free or reasonably priced, and be open to all.

The Director of Financial Services at Consumer Focus, Sarah Brooks, says that 1.5 million consumers in the UK "do not have a transactional bank account" and "being outside of mainstream banking means they are unable to get deals or access services that many just take for granted, such as cheaper utility bills when paying by Direct Debit."

A spokesperson from budgeting bank account provider thinkbanking commented: "There are a number of basic bank accounts on the market at the moment that offer a range of different services - so it pays to shop around and find the right account for your needs."

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