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Why does the ECB advise on EU and national legislation?

Given our role and our high degree of expertise as the central bank for the euro, EU or national legislators must consult us when proposing new laws that might affect our role.

This is set out in the founding EU Treaties, which means that such legislation is only adopted once the ECB has been consulted on it. Our advice is typically presented in the form of an ECB opinion adopted by the Governing Council.

What is an ECB Opinion?

ECB opinions are non-binding and part of our advisory role. We deliver them whenever EU institutions or national authorities consult us on proposed new laws that could have an impact on our tasks.

For example, we would provide an opinion if the European Parliament or the EU Council were working on new legislation affecting us and the work we do, such as supervising Europe’s banks or operating and overseeing payment systems.

We can also initiate an opinion ourselves if we believe that a new law might influence our role.

Examples of ECB opinions

For example, we have adopted opinions on laws imposing limits on the use of cash for money laundering and tax evasion purposes, where we advise on whether these laws would interfere with the legal tender status of cash.

We have also adopted opinions on EU Member States’ plans to impose new levies on bank profits which could influence banks’ capacity to provide credit to businesses and people.

The ECB has adopted Opinions on a wide range of topics, including:

  • economic governance in Europe’s economic and monetary union

  • capital requirements and crisis management for banks
  • cash limitations
  • oversight of payment systems
  • derivatives clearing through central counterparties
  • governance of national central banks
  • matters relating to the International Monetary Fund
  • credit registers
  • restructuring of banks’ loan portfolios
  • new taxes on banks’ profits

Where can I find ECB opinions?

Transparency is important to us in everything we do. We publish our opinions as soon as possible after their adoption on EUR-LEX, and sometimes also in the Official Journal of the European Union and/or on our own website.

Opinions on proposed EU legislation are available in all official EU languages, while opinions on proposed new national legislation are published in English and the relevant national language(s).

What is the ECB’s legal framework and what other legal acts can we adopt?

Our objectives and tasks are set out in the:

The Treaty and the Statute give us the regulatory power to adopt different types of legal act within our field of competence to make our work more effective. They also reinforce our independence as a central bank.

In addition to opinions, we can also adopt:

  • Regulations
  • Decisions
  • Recommendations

These legal acts differ in many important respects. Some of them are “binding”, which means that they set out rules that must be complied with. Others are “non-binding” and provide advice or clarify a particular issue. Furthermore, some address very specific issues, while others are more general in scope, and some apply to individual countries and others to the euro area as a whole.