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The Digital Competence Framework for Consumers

The Digital Competence Framework for Consumers (DigCompConsumers) is now translated into 23 EU languages. DigCompConsumers offers a reference framework to support and improve consumers’ digital competence. Consumer digital competence is defined as the competence consumers need to function actively, safely and assertively in the digital marketplace.

This definition builds on existing work on consumers’ competence, and on the general digital competences as defined in the DigComp 2.0 framework. This report introduces the conceptual reference model which outlines 14 competences and gives examples of each competence in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes.

The Background Review with a snapshot of hot-button issues and recent literature is available in English.

DigCompConsumers is a joint initiative of DG Justice and Consumers and the Joint Research Centre.

How to cite:

Brečko, B., Ferrari, A., edited by Vuorikari R., Punie Y. (2016). Joint Research Centre Science for Policy Report;
The Digital Competence Framework for Consumers;
EUR 28133 EN; doi:10.2791/838886.
Fielder Anna, Vuorikari Riina, Rodríguez-Priego Nuria, Punie, Yves; Joint Research Centre Science for Policy Report;
Background Review for Developing the Digital Competence Framework for Consumers. JRC Technical Reports
EUR 28196 EN; doi:10.2791/780656.

Policy context for the Digital Competence Framework for Consumers

In the current digital era, the variety and complexity of marketplaces provides a plethora of opportunities and risks for consumers. Given the fast speed of change, consumers need to update their knowledge, skills and attitudes regularly or they risk being out of step with the increasing sophistication of digital marketing practices. Online consumer activities are diversifying as opportunities multiply for them to act as micro-producers or micro-entrepreneurs in online marketplaces, or to create and upload content.

To engage actively, safely and assertively in digital marketplaces, consumers need specific competences. These competences need to be defined, and examples of relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes developed and regularly updated. This new set of digital competences aims to help consumers make informed choices and responsibly manage their consumer behaviour.

Empowering consumers will contribute to the efficiency of (digital) markets in general, and the Digital Single Market in particular.

A Digital Single Market for consumers is one where consumers can seamlessly access and carry out online activities under conditions of fair competition, with a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence. One of the overarching goals of the European Commission’s renewed strategy for the creation of a Digital Single Market is to deliver better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe.  Promoting the acquisition of digital skills by citizens and consumers is a crucial element of this strategy.

Much of consumer policy is still based on the assumption that consumers are rational decision makers, and that empowering them with the right educational tools and information will ensure they make optimal choices. The study of economic decision making by consumers (behavioural economics) has undermined this presumption. Consumers have limited time and ability to process information, particularly in the case of the (over)abundance and complexity of the information on offer online and through mobile channels. Consumer education is generally not a high priority in school curricula.

Within this context, the Competence Framework aims to suggest a way forward. At the same time, it is fully recognized that market failures and new or emerging market practices will continue to require policy responses, including legislative ones, to protect all consumers, irrespective of their level of competences.