SPAIN (El Pais) The Economy Ministry wants to make banks give clearer explanations to customers and stop swindling them with high charges, an aim it plans to achieve via a ministerial order scheduled to be sent to the Official State Gazette in the second week of September. Among the government's reasons for the measure are the increase of annual bank commissions to as much as 34 percent; an accumulation of complaints from consumers hit by abusive charges with no prior warning; and, above all, the severe reprimanding it received from the European Commission over the opacity and costly operation of the Spanish banking system. Last July, the EU identified Spain, along with Italy, as the countries that charged current and savings account holders the most and that least explained the small print related to the figures to consumers.
The draft of the ministerial order maintains the freedom of banks to impose the commissions they consider appropriate, but stresses that communications from banks to customers need to be made "with sufficient time so they can change their mind"; that explanations be clear and sufficient to be understood by clients of all cultural levels; and, especially, asks that commission charges not be "deceptive." To this end, it will oblige all banks to display a table showing their commissions in a clear place on their premises and on their websites.