Guiding principles for external communication for high-level officials of the European Central Bank
Part of the Code of Conduct for high-level ECB officials, 16 January 2019.
The members of the Governing Council, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board (hereinafter the ‘members of high-level European Central Bank (ECB) bodies’) are subject to and act in accordance with the existing rules, as defined in particular in the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the ECB and in the Code of Conduct of high-level ECB Officials.
The members of high-level ECB bodies attach great importance to clear, effective and timely communication of the ECB’s strategy and policy decisions as well as issues related to their implementation. The communication policy of the ECB is an essential part of its accountability and good governance obligations as an independent monetary and supervisory authority. Regular contacts and interaction with members of the public, private sector, academia, interest groups, representative associations and civil society provide relevant input and information that help to understand the dynamics of the economy, the financial markets and the banking sector, and the broader societal context.
This two-way communication is based on open, transparent and regular dialogues and debates between the members of high-level bodies and the public as well as specialised audiences.
Guided by the values of integrity and transparency, members of high-level ECB bodies and alternates hereby confirm their adherence to the following principles when interacting with private sector, academia, interest groups, representative associations and civil society representatives:1
First, the members of high-level ECB bodies and alternates will safeguard confidential information in accordance with their obligations and apply utmost prudence in selecting speaking engagements at external events to avoid any appearance that potentially market-sensitive information may not be available to the widest possible public audience at the same time. To that end, they shall:
- accept speaking engagements at events where their remarks are potentially market-sensitive only if these remarks are published on their respective institution’s website, in principle at the start of the speech, or if the event can be monitored and followed directly by the general public (e.g. via a live webcast), or if the event is attended by media representatives who could report in real time. Speaking engagements on general or academic topics, where no market-sensitive information is disclosed, are not affected by this stipulation;
- refrain from offering in a non-public setting, to any institution, company or person who could derive profit from such information, personal views about the state of the economy or the financial sector relevant to the future stance of monetary policy or supervisory matters2 that have not already been expressed publicly; and
- strive to ensure, in selecting their speaking engagements, that the acceptance of such invitations is not perceived as giving the organiser a prestige advantage over a competitor or allowing them to benefit commercially from apparently exclusive contacts with the members of high-level ECB bodies and alternates.
Second, when considering invitations to speak at non-public events or to accept bilateral meetings, e.g. with bankers, industry representatives, or with special interest and advocacy groups, the members of high-level ECB bodies and alternates will ensure that no market-sensitive information is divulged.
As an additional safeguard and as a general rule, a staff member of the respective institution or entity should accompany the member of the high-level ECB body or alternate to non-public events where future monetary policy or supervisory/regulatory matters are to be discussed, and to bilateral meetings, unless it is against the interest of the institution or entity, thereby protecting the ‘need to listen’ of members of high-level ECB bodies or alternates.
Third, to enhance transparency and accountability, the members of high-level ECB bodies shall, as a general rule, include information on their meetings with external parties in their published meeting calendars, to the extent such information relates to their role as members of high-level ECB bodies.
Fourth, the members of the Governing Council and of the Executive Board, and their alternates, re-affirm their adherence to the quiet period principle, whereby speeches and public remarks, given in the seven days prior to each scheduled monetary policy meeting of the Governing Council, should not be such as to influence expectations about forthcoming monetary policy decisions. Similarly, the members of the Governing Council and of the Executive Board will not meet with nor talk to the media, market participants or other outside interests on monetary policy matters during that period and should immediately notify both the communications and compliance functions of their institution if they inadvertently do so.
1 These guiding principles do not apply to dialogues with public authorities.
2 This shall not apply to supervisory dialogues, i.e. dialogues with supervised entities on supervisory matters with respect to the institution supervised.