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Call for papers

Legal Research Programme 2016

European Central Bank, Frankfurt am Main

Application deadline: 15 February 2016

The European Central Bank (ECB) is seeking applications from established or promising younger researchers for up to four legal research scholarships to be awarded in 2016. The Legal Research Programme was launched in 2008 to foster analysis of areas of law relevant to the ECB's statutory tasks, and to establish closer contacts with scholars. Each scholarship is endowed with a grant of EUR 10 000, which is not compatible with any other fellowships or grants received from third parties in relation to the research project for which it is awarded, unless the ECB has expressly provided its consent.


Applicants who are awarded a scholarship under the Legal Research Programme (the 'Scholars') will be required to write a research paper during 2016 on one of the following research topics:

  1. Cross-sectoral and cross-border issues related to effective resolution of financial institutions in the Union

    Despite efforts to develop at international level legal frameworks for a coherent and workable resolution of financial institutions, material divides still impede the full potential effectiveness in the Union of such new frameworks when financial institutions operate across sectors or across borders.

    Cross-sector operation can be relevant for resolution in the case of financial conglomerates. While the supervision of financial conglomerates is, at present, cross-sectoral, their resolution is not. There would appear to be something of a paradox in this bifurcation of supervision and resolution, unless this could be warranted on account of qualitative or other differences between banks and insurance companies. One of the aims of the proposed research would therefore be to examine the extent to which a cross-sectoral resolution scheme for financial conglomerates is desirable (in terms of the advantages it would bring) and feasible, and what the practical challenges to its implementation would be (e.g. in terms of exchange of information).

    Turning to the operation of financial institutions across more than one jurisdiction, this could be problematic in view of the outstanding legal obstacles to the cross-border recognition of bank resolution decisions. The extent to which bank resolution decisions involving foreign law elements (such as the governing law or location of a bank’s resolved assets) will be effective in a jurisdiction other than that of the competent (home) resolution authority is a function of the robustness of the Bank Resolution and Recovery Directive’s (BRRD’s) mutual recognition regime, and of the extent to which this may allow the courts of other Member States to refuse to recognise resolution decisions validly taken by the competent (home) resolution authorities. The second aim of the proposed research would therefore be to review the BRRD’s mutual recognition regime, with a view to assessing its robustness, and to identifying ways in which this could be reinforced, to ensure the efficiency of lawful bank resolution decisions involving foreign law elements.

  2. Creditor ranking in insolvency: possible approaches and obstacles to harmonisation

    Rules on creditor ranking in insolvency differ across jurisdictions and tend not to be very transparent vis-à-vis creditors, including investors in publicly traded debt instruments. To encourage investment within the Union, initiatives to enhance the transparency and comparability of such rules would be welcome. The aim of the proposed research would be to explore the feasibility of initiatives aimed at enhancing transparency of creditor ranking rules (including consolidating such rules in a single piece of legislation) and their harmonisation (including the treatment of various privileged and non-privileged creditors).

  3. Collateral arrangements in the Union: current state and the way forward

    The Financial Collateral Directive has introduced a number of protections for parties to collateral arrangements and removed certain formalities previously required by law. The aim of the proposed research would be to:

    1. analyse to what extent the rights of creditors in such collateral arrangements have been affected by the enactment of resolution regimes for financial institutions;

    2. explore if further improvements could be made to the legal framework, in terms of its scope and requirements as well as in the light of case law in national jurisdictions; and
    3. review if the form of the legislation chosen, i.e. a directive, is still appropriate to protect the interests of collateral takers.
  4. New transparency demands applicable to central banks

    The increased importance of monetary policy following the financial crisis, as well as the trend towards the re-centralisation of policies relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions with central banks, has triggered institutional demands towards more transparency and accountability for central banks. Against these considerations are relevant the conditions under which central banks, and the ECB in particular, may share information with national authorities and supranational organisations in a legally sound manner. There are several Treaty and secondary Union law provisions regarding professional secrecy that apply to the ECB (and the Eurosystem national central banks). The aim of the proposed research would be to explore how the statutory provisions applicable to central banks need to be interpreted in the light of these (new) transparency requirements, and whether normative changes in the relevant legislation (i.e. the Capital Requirements Directive IV) are necessary. The research should in particular focus on how various provisions on confidentiality, access to files and public access to documents interact. A comprehensive analysis of the principle of transparency, including in view of the case law of the relevant courts and the practice of non-judicial subjects (e.g. the European Ombudsman) would be relevant to determine whether transparency demands prevail over other competing requirements (related to central bank activities), favouring a more limited scrutiny.


Researchers with an established reputation, relevant experience and a track record of relevant legal publications are, in particular, encouraged to apply; proposals submitted by promising young researchers will also be considered on their merits. None of the Scholars involved in a research paper may be in an employment relationship with the ECB.


Each selected Scholar will be required to prepare a high-quality, original research paper of approximately 20 000 words in length, excluding footnotes, which must meet, at the ECB’s discretion, the overall standard expected of papers published in reputable, peer-reviewed academic journals. The Scholars may be invited to the ECB to present their research, even after the completion of the Research Programme and the payment of the grant. They will be responsible for their own transportation arrangements and costs, but will be reimbursed for such costs under the ECB Terms of Reference for reimbursement of travel expenses. The Scholarship will be available to those Scholars who complete, by no later than 1 December 2016, all phases of the Legal Research Programme, as laid out in the following five steps, that are designed to lead to the completion of an original piece of scholarly work suitable for publication. The ECB may decide not to award a scholarship for any or all of the above research subjects if, in its opinion, no contribution/s of sufficient quality has been submitted. The applications will be assessed by a committee composed of Legal Counsels of the ECB Legal Services.


Applications must be submitted in English and include the applicant's curriculum vitae and a proposal for one of the research topics described above. The proposal must consist of:

  1. a statement of issues to be addressed;
  2. the proposed methodology;
  3. an analysis of the originality and significance of the proposed research paper in view of the existing academic literature; and
  4. a discussion of the feasibility for completion of the research project by November 2016.

Proposals should be no longer than 1 500 words (not including charts, graphs, or bibliography).
Applications should be sent by e-mail to: legaladviceteam@ecb.europa.eu no later than 15 February 2016. The ECB will notify the Scholars of the acceptance of their proposal for a research paper by 15 March 2016.


The selected Scholars will be invited in a seminar to be held at the ECB in spring 2016, to present their proposal against the background of their previous research in the relevant field. Such seminar is intended to establish a fruitful relationship between the ECB Legal Services and the Scholars, and to provide them with constructive feedback on the research subject from practitioners in the field.


The Scholar must submit a first draft of his or her research paper to the ECB by 15 July 2016, and must immediately inform the ECB if there is a risk of not meeting that deadline. The ECB will review and referee the research paper by 30 September 2016.


The Scholar will take the remarks and suggestions of the ECB's report into consideration and complete the research paper by 30 November 2016.


The research paper must be eligible and available to be posted on the ECB’s website and will be considered for publication in the ECB Legal Working Paper Series. Without prejudice to the prior publication in the ECB Legal Working Paper Series, Scholars are expected to seek publication of the research paper in a reputable academic journal, when necessary or appropriate following revision of the research paper.

Following completion of all of the phases above and publication in a reputable academic journal, Scholars will receive a final honorarium of EUR 10 000.