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Financial literacy in the spotlight as reaction to the financial crisis

European Commission - IP/10/613   26/05/2010

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/10/613

Brussels, 26 May 2010

Financial literacy in the spotlight as reaction to the financial crisis

The conference "Financial Literacy: Dolceta", taking place in Brussels on 28 May, will bring together national and EU stakeholders including teachers, government and consumer representatives, as well as the banking industry. Financial literacy will be the main focus of the conference where a new 'Dolceta' on-line education tool on financial literacy for teachers will be launched. Commissioner John Dalli will outline his priorities for consumer policy in financial services after the crisis: financial education, pre-contractual information and financial advice. Empowering consumers to be more financially literate will help them make the best decisions with regard to financial products and services.

On the eve of the Conference, Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Dalli said: "Consumer policy has an important role to play in financial services. Financial education complements regulation and cannot be used as a pretext to avoid it. The sooner you provide the necessary tools to understand the complexity of financial issues, the better it is for the European citizens. By targeting a young audience, tools like Dolceta should empower young EU citizens to make targeted financial decisions in the future ".

The conference:

The conference "Financial Literacy: Dolceta" (Brussels, 28 May) will bring together – almost 200 - stakeholders to discuss financial education as well as pre-contractual information and financial advice, following the financial crisis. Commissioner Dalli will open the conference with an address outlining his priorities for consumer policy in the area of financial services. Given the impact of the crisis on so many consumers, the Commission's work on financial education is now more relevant than ever.

Consumer policy in financial services:

Recent studies show that consumers are not able to get the best deal in financial services. Information given to consumers is not often comparable or easy to understand - 79% of Europeans (EB 2981) want standardised and therefore comparable information for financial products. Consumers are lacking financial literacy in many Member States. For example, 77% of young people in five countries do not know that the annual percentage rate of charge is the one single figure which allows you to find the cheapest consumer credit. Consumers also lack suitable financial advice. Recent mystery shopping exercise revealed for instance that 24 out of 25 banks in Germany provided unsuitable financial advice. This evidence leads to a conclusion that more needs to be done to ensure that consumers are at least enabled to buy financial products that they need and are aware of the risks and consequences of their choices.

In order to achieve this goal, Commissioner Dalli prioritises three complementary strands for consumer policy in financial services:

  • Sound financial education and

  • Clear and comparable pre-contractual information that consumers can use

  • Suitable and comprehensive financial advice

Dolceta:

The European Commission finances Dolceta, an on-line consumer education tool managed by the European Association for University Lifelong Learning (EUCEN). Since April 2010 a new section on financial literacy for teachers is available. It provides teachers with ready to use lesson plans, crosswords and quizzes on various financial subjects, such as investments and loans in a simple language. It will enable teachers, in primary and secondary education, to easily include financial topics in their courses. Dolceta is comprised of 27 different country versions and in 21 languages, with almost 100.000 webpages, 2000 documents and 5600 interactive quizzes, and is constantly updated. We are currently doing a survey about the extent of its use but the yearly feedback from teachers is that it is very useful, that students enjoy it and find it beneficial. Since the end of 2007, more than 1.2 million people visited the web based tool. Dolceta targets teachers, who are key to reaching our young people but it can also be used by parents.

Other Dolceta sections include:

  • financial services, explaining in plain language financial concepts such as savings, investments and loans;

  • consumer rights, basic consumer rights e.g. in sales contracts or in price labelling;

  • section for teachers on consumer education in the classroom,

  • services such as energy, transport and telecommunications, e.g. providing consumers with tips and checklists to use before choosing a supplier;

  • product safety, advising how to buy safe products;

  • sustainable consumption, containing tips and guides e.g. on sustainable use of heating or on food labelling;

All Dolceta national sites are adapted to take into account national charateristics/situations.

More information:

http://onetec.be/dolceta/

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/empowerment/cons_education_en.htm

Financial education in the EC:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/capability/

1 :

Eurobarometer 298 of June 2008: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/strategy/facts_eurobar_en.htm#2008


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