Oversight

Oversight aims to promote the “smooth operation of payment systems” for the euro as specified by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

Consistent policy requirements and standards within the Eurosystem help to avoid competitive distortions between comparable systems in different euro area countries.

Payment, clearing and securities settlement systems play an important role in the stability and efficiency of the financial sector and the euro area economy as a whole. The implementation of monetary policy in the euro area depends on the existence of reliable and effective market infrastructures.

Scope

The Eurosystem oversight function includes:

  • payment systems (large-value payment systems and retail payment systems),
  • securities settlement systems,
  • central counterparties,
  • trade repositories,
  • payment instruments, and
  • some third-party service providers such as SWIFT and trade repositories.

Oversight does not entail any certification, approval or authorisation. In some cases payment systems can start operation once they have been approved by the respective central bank. System rules can only be changed after approval. Operators continue to bear responsibility for the security and reliability of their systems, products and services.

Conducting oversight

The Eurosystem performs its oversight tasks on the basis of the standards and recommendations it has developed by itself or else in cooperation with other central banks and authorities. Clear and straightforward standards and recommendations ensure a harmonised and systematic oversight of payment, clearing and securities settlement and make it easier to compare assessments of different systems.

Conducting oversight of individual systems and schemes includes:

  • the collection of information,
  • the assessment of the information and
  • possible measures aimed at inducing change.

Who oversees?

The Eurosystem assigns a leading role to the Eurosystem central bank that is best placed to oversee individual systems and schemes. The selected central bank may be located near the overseen entity; the system may be legally incorporated within the jurisdiction of a particular central bank; national laws may attribute specific oversight responsibilities to a specific central bank concerned and are subject to any Treaty-based requirements.

This is typically the case for systems with a clear national anchor. For systems that have no domestic anchor, the body entrusted with oversight responsibility is the national central bank (NCB) of the country where the system is legally incorporated, unless the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decides otherwise and assigns the primary oversight responsibilities to the ECB.

Main activities

  • Defining the oversight policy for
    1. large-value payment systems (e.g. TARGET2 and EURO1), including offshore payment arrangements;
    2. retail payment systems and payment instruments;
    3. clearing and securities settlement systems; including the definition of the oversight framework for TARGET2-Securities (T2S);
  • Assessing compliance of overseen infrastructure and objects with the defined oversight standards and policies;
  • Defining business continuity requirements for market infrastructures and coordinating the respective implementation work;
  • Contributing to the G10 oversight of SWIFT and CLS;
  • Contributing to the development of the ECB/Eurosystem position on market developments and EU legal initiatives. This affects the oversight of payments, clearing and securities settlement infrastructures and arrangements. The work includes responses to consultations, qualitative and quantitative ad hoc studies, the development of a glossary, as well as regular data collection (e.g. the “Blue Book”).

In order to guarantee the smooth functioning of payment and clearing and securities settlement systems, overseers cooperate closely with the European Commission and, where relevant, with the EU Council and Parliament.