To elevate debt advice services in the EU, it is important to understand the current state of debt advice in European countries. It is necessary to create a base level of knowledge before it is possible to create and carry out initiatives to improve debt advice services on an EU level.
Therefore, we carried out an interview with Dr. Rodica Apan from Romania, to gain a better understanding of the current state of debt advice services in Romania.
The current debt advice in Romania is not very developed since there are no legal or governmental initiatives aimed at fighting over-indebtedness. While there are some legislations regarding consumer protection, there is a lack of fundamental standards and objectives concerning debt advice. Additionally, there is an imminent need for advice tools that pertain to over indebtedness.
Currently, there are two locations in the north of Romania that teach financial education. These offices are focused on the countryside, since a lot of people residing in the countryside struggle with over-indebtedness. Therefore, a preparation of a website has begun, to create national visibility.
In Dr. Apan’s opinion, consumer associations need to improve their ability to advice over-indebted consumers. Additionally, due to the current judicial state in Romania, consumer associations cannot represent consumers in court. This calls for a change in legislation.
Furthermore, there is a need for the establishment of specialized guidelines and professional standards for consumer associations regarding debt advice, more specifically, the advice of over-indebted consumers.
However, to establish professional standards, it is important to focus on the education of future debt advisors. Thus, creating academic standards that can be taught at a university level, that aims to prepare and teach future debt advisors – an initiative that does not exist in Romania, at the current time.