Accountability

The ECB is an independent institution which has discretion to use its instruments as necessary to carry out its tasks and fulfil its mandate. Accountability is the necessary counterpart to that independence.

The ECB explains its decisions and underlying reasoning to EU citizens and their elected representatives. On this basis, they can then form a judgement on the ECB’s performance against its objectives, which are specified in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Objectives

Our accountability framework

The Treaty provides that the ECB is primarily accountable to the European Parliament as the representation of EU citizens, but also has to report regularly to the Council of the EU, which represents Member State governments. This is also reflected in the Statute of the ESCB.

The ECB has developed a strong and comprehensive accountability framework over the years, which goes beyond the Treaty requirements.

Main channels of accountability
Hearings and exchanges of views The ECB’s President participates in quarterly hearings of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament. Other Executive Board members also participate in hearings of this Committee to explain the ECB’s reasoning and decisions on specific topics.
Written questions Members of the European Parliament can address written questions to the ECB.
Annual Report The ECB submits an annual report on its tasks, the activities of the ESCB and the Eurosystem’s monetary policy to the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the European Council. The report is presented each year to the European Parliament by the Vice-President of the ECB in a dedicated session of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and by the President on the occasion of a plenary debate.

These channels of accountability are, however, not the only source for the public to understand the ECB’s decisions and judge its actions.

ECB Banking Supervision and accountability

The ECB’s accountability for its banking supervision tasks is subject to a specific regime set down in the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) Regulation.

How the supervisory accountability requirements are to be fulfilled in practice is clarified in:

  • an Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament and the ECB
  • a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of the EU and the ECB

Accountability of ECB Banking Supervision

Other information channels

Building on the Treaty’s requirements and going further, the ECB has developed over the years other channels of communication to make its decisions transparent to the European public.

Other channels of communication
Economic Bulletin The Economic Bulletin (formerly Monthly Bulletin) presents the economic and monetary information which forms the basis for the Governing Council’s policy decisions. It is published eight times a year, two weeks after each monetary policy meeting.
Weekly financial statements The Eurosystem’s consolidated weekly financial statement provides information on monetary policy operations, foreign exchange operations and investment activities.
Press conferences The ECB holds press conferences after each Governing Council monetary policy meeting setting key interest rates for the euro area, i.e. every six weeks.
Monetary policy accounts The accounts of the Governing Council’s discussions are published four weeks after each monetary policy meeting.
Articles, interviews and speeches The members of the Executive Board regularly communicate with the public by way of articles, interviews and speeches. These are published on the ECB’s website.