Speech - "Need credit? Don't just sign. You have rights" – launching the Consumer Credit Campaign in Spain
European Commission - SPEECH/13/819 17/10/2013
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Commissioner for Consumer Policy
"Need credit? Don't just sign. You have rights" – launching the Consumer Credit Campaign in Spain
Launch of the Consumer Credit Information Campaign/Madrid
17 October 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to be here today to present the EU campaign on consumer credit. I sincerely thank Minister Mato for joining us in this event.
"Need credit? Don't just sign. You have rights". This is the essential message we want to get across to consumers.
When I took up the consumer portfolio – more than 3 months ago – I emphasised that raising consumers' awareness of their rights was one of my priorities. This campaign is a very good example of how we can do precisely this.
Over the last few years, we have all seen the impact of the economic crisis. Against this backdrop, consumers throughout Europe are becoming more worried about credit and, not surprisingly, are taking a keener interest in learning about financial products.
We have seen, more clearly than ever before, that financial issues are at the heart of our everyday lives and that the financial choices we make have far reaching consequences.
It is also clear that consumers are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the increasing complexity of financial products and services. A Eurobarometer survey, for example, showed that more than 50% of Europeans want to see personal loans simplified.
Here in Spain, we also conducted a survey a few months ago to gain better understanding of consumers' views on credit. I regret to say that the results were not very encouraging.
About 30% of Spanish consumers said that they took out credit in the previous two years.
But about 70% reported that they did not feel they knew about their credit rights and did not feel confident about choosing the right product, while 80% said that they did not feel protected.
These and other results highlight why we decided to run this campaign now.
We want to raise consumer awareness about their rights when they take out credit – rights that are granted to them under the EU's Consumer Credit Directive.
Minster Mato already described the rights arising from the Consumer Credit Directive:
These are the main consumer rights. We want to make sure that consumers know these rights.
We want people to know that before they choose a credit option, they can shop around and compare offers to get the best deal.
We also want everyone to know that after they have made their choice, they have clear rights as well.
And once you have a right, you can get it enforced through your national institutions. We enjoy full co-operation for this from the Spanish authorities.
Allow me now to give a few more details on what the campaign involves:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is an important campaign, because it touches the needs of an increasing higher number of people. The economic difficulties of several EU countries had serious repercussions on ordinary people, in particular the most vulnerable ones. In the European Commission we are actively trying to alleviate the consequences of the crisis and to prevent new difficulties of this magnitude in the future.
The question frequently asked to me is why you launch the campaign five years after the adoption of the Directive. It is because we wanted to wait for the transposition of the Directive in the Member States. Now we know that the countries we chose for the campaign have transposed well the Directive in their legal orders. We are confident that institutions and financial services know by now what the Directive entails, but we are less confident about consumers' awareness of it.
This initiative will be successful only if our efforts are combined. In this way, it will have direct impact on the numerous citizens who had to take a credit. I therefore count on your support to raise awareness here in Spain.