PRESS RELEASE

Publication of the Eurosystem oversight policy framework

20 February 2009

The European Central Bank (ECB) is today publishing the “Eurosystem oversight policy framework”. The framework describes the role of the Eurosystem in the field of oversight, i.e. a central bank function through which the safety and efficiency of payment and settlement systems are promoted by monitoring them, assessing them and, where necessary, inducing change. Promoting the smooth operation of payment systems is a key task of the Eurosystem. For the performance of this task, the Eurosystem applies three approaches: it takes an operational role, conducts oversight activities and acts as a catalyst.

The framework provides an overview of the existing set of methods and instruments that the Eurosystem employs in the field of oversight. Moreover, it gives an insight into the allocation of roles within the Eurosystem and places the Eurosystem’s oversight activities in a global context, most notably with respect to the interdependence and location of payment and settlement systems. This document replaces the Eurosystem’s earlier policy statement, entitled “Role of the Eurosystem in the field of payment systems oversight”, that was published in 2000.

By publishing this framework, the Eurosystem seeks to strengthen the transparency of its oversight polices, enabling payment and settlement system operators to observe the applicable policy requirements and standards. Through transparency, the Eurosystem also demonstrates an appropriate degree of consistency in its oversight approach. Finally, transparency provides a basis for judging the effectiveness of the Eurosystem’s policies, and thus ensures accountability in the performance of oversight.

Simultaneously, the ECB is today also publishing the Eurosystem’s “Harmonised oversight approach and oversight standards for payment instruments”. Recent consultations had revealed that there were increased expectations in the market for a uniform approach and a level playing-field in the oversight of SEPA payment instruments by central banks across the euro area. In the light of this, oversight standards for card payments schemes were developed in 2006/07, which were finalised after a public consultation and approved by the Governing Council in January 2008. On the basis of these standards, the Eurosystem has developed a generalised approach and a minimum set of common oversight standards for payment instruments. The standards will create a common ground for all payment instrument frameworks, while leaving enough flexibility for the specificities of the individual instruments involved. Instead of elaborating frameworks in response to market developments on a case-by-case basis, the common oversight standards represent foundations on which oversight of payment instruments in general can be built.

Both publications can be downloaded from the “Publications” section of the ECB’s website.

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