Brussels, 18 December 2007
The European Commission has adopted a Communication on Financial Education. The Commission stresses the importance of increasing the ability of Europe's citizens to understand and engage with financial products and services. Enhancing financial education has substantial benefits for consumers, the economy and society. The Commission sets out some basic principles to guide financial educators; and announces some practical initiatives.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "Too many consumers lack a basic understanding of financial products and services. They do not choose the products that best meet their needs or make financial provision for the future. Financial education is a key element in empowering our citizens to take more appropriate financial decisions. I strongly encourage Member States, consumer organisations, the financial industry and other stakeholders to take action to educate citizens on financial matters. The European Commission will also play its role."
Today's Communication sets out some basic principles to guide providers of financial education, based on existing best practices. These include a call to make financial teaching available throughout citizens' lives, starting at school; the need to ensure impartiality and objectivity when delivering financial education; and a recommendation to tailor programmes to the real needs of the target audience.
The Commission will also be taking some initiatives in this area. In particular, it will publish an online reference database of financial education programmes and research and will enhance the existing Dolceta online education tool (http://www.dolceta.eu) to help teachers to incorporate financial matters into the school curriculum.
Financial education should not be seen as the only means to address information asymmetries between consumers and providers, but rather as a complement to adequate consumer protection and to the responsible behaviour of financial services providers.
Today also sees the publication of the results of a wide-ranging study of
financial literacy schemes and research in the 27 EU Member States undertaken on
behalf of the Commission. This study aims to facilitate learning from existing
initiatives and research and highlights the very uneven provision of financial
education within the EU.