The European Consumer Debt Network (ECDN) https://ecdn.eu/ held its European 2023 Conference at the Salini Resort Hotel on the 23rd March. This was a hybrid format full-day event with speakers and participants hailing from different European countries, taking part physically and online. The conference focused on EU funded project for the Provision of a European Platform for the Prevention of Over indebtedness by the Increase Accessibility and the Improvement of effectiveness of Debt Advice for Citizens PEPPI. The Ministry for Social Policy and Children’s Rights through ĠEMMA is participating in the PEPPI project.
The PEPPI project has three goals: to facilitate the consumers’ access to debt-advice services; to increase the accessibility of debt advice services and to improve the operational effectiveness of the structures for providing debt advice services to the citizens, including through the creation or the strengthening of specific networks of experts, technicians and debt-advisors.
As a part of this European project, a series of national networking video conference meetings for stakeholders are being held in each of the participating member states. The first Maltese national network meeting, which was facilitated by Mr Dieter Korczak the Lead Project Coordinator for PEPPI and President of the ECDN, took place on the 2nd December 2022. A series of 6 webinars are also underway for interested stakeholders from all the participating countries.
The conference was opened by the President of the ECDN and PEPPI project coordinator Dieter Korczak, the Minister for Social Policy and Children's Rights, Hon Dr Michael Falzon and Francesco Gaetano, from EU DG Justice and Helena Holland who is the project co-ordinator for Malta. Mr Korczak is also one of the founding members of the ECDN and leads a social research institute in Germany.
All the PEPPI National Co-ordinators from Malta, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Greece, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain and finally Cyprus gave their presentations on the state of play of debt advice in their countries. Participants from these same countries as well as others from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Finland, France and Belgium also joined online.
Pauline Dujardin, the ECDN Vice-President launched the PEPPI Knowledge Platform. Ms Dujardin is the legal counsellor of the federation of the 30 associations of CRÉSUS in France https://www.cresus.org/. The CRÉSUS associations are charitable organizations which support the people suffering from excess debt and over-indebtedness. Gwen Harris of the ECDN management committee launched the Academy. She is is currently the Regional Manager for North Dublin MABS, the Irish Money Advice and Budgeting Service https://mabs.ie. These are the first European-wide online Academy for debt advice, and Knowledge Platform for overindebtedness, debt advice and financial education.
This conference was an excellent opportunity for all the participating national coordinators as well as Maltese stakeholders of the debt advice area to network, exchange ideas and experiences. ĠEMMA shall soon be informing the interested national stakeholders of the next National Network Meeting of the PEPPI project.