What is financial literacy?
Financial literacy means the knowledge and skills needed to make important financial decisions. Every day, thousands of people are deciding where to open a bank account, which mortgage to choose, where to invest their money and how to save for retirement.
However, according to the OECD/INFE 2020 international survey of adult financial literacy, about half of the EU adult population does not have a good enough understanding of basic financial concepts. While the overall figures are low, the problem is more acute in some parts of society than others, with the most vulnerable disproportionally affected. Low-income groups, for instance, as well as women, young people and older people, tend to score lower than the rest of the population when it comes to financial knowledge.
Everyone should be able to understand the risks involved when borrowing or investing money. Financial literacy can help individuals plan for the future, make better decisions about what to do with their money, and invest in capital markets in a way that meets their needs. This will be even more important for individuals and businesses as the economy gradually recovers from the COVID crisis.
Financial literacy also protects individuals from over-indebtedness, excessive risk-taking, fraud, or cyber risks. Financial education complements consumer protection, but does not replace it.
What is the European Commission doing about this?
In its September 2020 capital markets union action plan, the Commission reaffirmed that sound financial literacy is at the heart of people’s financial well-being. The Commission and the OECD are working together to develop joint ‘financial competence frameworks’ for adults and for children. These frameworks will set out the knowledge, skills and behaviour that someone needs to develop to ensure their financial well-being throughout their life. They can be used by national public authorities and stakeholders to develop policies, programmes, and learning materials on financial literacy
The Commission and the OECD jointly developed a financial competence framework for adultsin January 2022. They are now working on promoting the framework and helping Member States and stakeholders use the framework in concrete policies and initiatives, through targeted workshops. In addition, the Commission and the OECD on financial competence framework for children and teenagers.
The Commission also works with national administrations to assess levels of financial literacy and create dedicated programmes to improve financial education.
Videos on financial literacy
Do you want to know what a green bond is? Do you want to learn more about your rights when depositing money at the bank or taking out a mortgage? Our videos explain what you need to know in less than 60 seconds!
Consumer rights and financial literacy
You need to be aware of financial risks and opportunities, to make informed choices and to know where to go for help. If you experience problems with a financial service provider, contact a European Consumer Centre or the consumer organisation in your country.
Financial competence framework
The financial competence framework for adults in the EU details the skills and knowledge that adults need when it comes to personal finance, especially in light of changes driven by technology and sustainability. A joint effort by the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education (OECD-INFE) and the European Commission to strengthen financial literacy in the EU.
Text phishing: don’t take the bait
Have you ever received a text message pretending to be from your bank and asking for your personal details? Commissioner McGuinness invites you to think twice before you click.
Protecting your online payments
Customers across the EU are making more and more online payments, and fraud has been rising in recent years. EU rules allow you to shop and pay online safely.
Your bank account, your right
If your bank account was refused in another EU country, that is illegal. Did it happen to you when you were trying to pay your taxes or bills in another country? You can report it.
Your money in the bank is protected
The money you have in the bank is protected up to 100,000 euros, no matter what happens to the bank. This is called deposit insurance, and it is financed by the banking sector itself.
Your rights when getting a mortgage
If you want to buy a house, you may need a mortgage. This is a loan that generally uses the house as guarantee. Do you know about your rights when getting a mortgage?
PEPP: Making EU-wide retirement savings possible
The Pan-European Personal Pension Product, or PEPP, is a voluntary pensions product complementary to state-based and occupational pensions. It is open to everyone and portable across the EU.
Green bonds allow companies or governments to borrow large amounts of money to invest into green projects or technologies.
A crypto-asset is a digital representation of value or rights which may be transferred or stored electronically, typically using distributed ledger technology.
Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism
Money laundering is the process by which criminal proceeds are ‘cleaned’ so that their illicit origin is concealed. The European Commission has put forward an ambitious package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules.
Speeches by Commissioner McGuinness on financial literacy
Financial literacy is a political priority for Commissioner Mairead McGuinness. Discover more about her vision of a financially literate EU population and the wider future of financial services in these speeches:
- Financial competence framework for adults in the EU
- ESAs draw consumers’ attention to how rises in inflation and interest rates might affect their finances (May 2023)
- Launch event of the Financial competence framework for adults in the EU (January 2022)
- Op-ed by Commissioner McGuinness: Improving financial literacy must be a priority for Europe, Financial Times (January 2022)
- Webinar on financial education in the digital era (June 2021)
- Finance Newsletter article on financial literacy (May 2021)
- Development of a financial competence framework in the EU
- Consumer rights and financial literacy
- Commission support to Member States on financial literacy
- Commission project: Protecting consumers and enhancing financial literacy in Italy
- EBA webpage on financial education
- EIOPA financial education map
- OECD International Network on Financial Education - OECD/INFE