EC encourages financial education for EU citizens

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.

The Communication set out on the 18 December 2007 in Brussels, outlines 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 ( 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.

The 18 December also saw 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.

See here for more information on financial education.