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ECB Legal Conference 2023

Treading softly: How central banks are addressing current global challenges

Monday, 4 and Tuesday, 5 September 2023
Hybrid event – by invitation only

ECB Legal Conference 2023 book: Treading softly- How central banks are addressing current global challenges



Times are Central European Time (UTC+1)

Monday, 4 September 2023

Registration opens


Welcome address 

Chiara Zilioli, Director General Legal Services, European Central Bank


Keynote speech
Come hell or high water: addressing the risks of climate- and environment-related litigation for the banking sector

Frank Elderson, Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank


Panel 1 – Preliminary rulings: the past, the present and the future

The CJEU’s rulings on preliminary references have played an important role in the development of Union law. Starting with an assessment of the historical use of the preliminary reference procedure and the development of preliminary rulings as one of the mechanisms in the development of Union law, the discussion will focus on the importance of this tool against the background of the increasing recourse to the application of national law by Union institutions. The possible impact of the transfer of preliminary references to the General Court, as has been proposed by the CJEU, will also be considered.


Frank Elderson, Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank


  • Sacha Garben, Professor, College of Europe
  • Vittorio Di Bucci, Registrar, General Court of the European Union
  • Lucia Serena Rossi, Judge, Court of Justice of the European Union

Discussion with questions from the audience 


Coffee break


Panel 2 – Independence, accountability and proportionality in the context of the ESCB’s secondary mandate

The recent debate about the role central banks ought to play in combatting the effects of climate change raises questions about the ESCB’s secondary mandate under Article 127(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to support the general economic policies in the Union with a view to contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the Union as set out in Article 3 of the TFEU. An initial question relates to the choice and prioritisation of the objectives that the ECB, as a central bank, should support. A connected question is whether different standards of independence, accountability and proportionality should apply depending on whether measures are undertaken by the ECB under the ESCB’s primary or secondary mandate.


Philip R. Lane, Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank


  • Alexander Thiele, BSP Business & Law School
  • Klaus Tuori, Professor, Luxembourg University
  • Anne Corrigan, Deputy Head of Legal, Legal Directorate at the Bank of England

Discussion with questions from the audience 


Coffee break


Keynote speech (not broadcasted)
Protection of Fundamental Rights in the European Multilevel System

Professor Stephan Harbarth, President of the German Federal Constitutional Court


End of day 1

Tuesday, 5 September 2023



Panel 3 – Central bank immunities and international sanctions

Sanctions have been deemed by the international community to be appropriate responses to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine . Against this background the scope of immunities is particularly relevant, for example with regard to the freezing and/ or seizing of assets as counter-measures to an illegal war. The role of central banks will also be discussed in the context of relevant international experiences.


Chiara Zilioli, Director General Legal Services, European Central Bank


  • Ingrid (Würth) Brunk, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research, Vanderbilt Law School
  • Richard Ostrander, General Counsel, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Iryna Bogdanova, Postdoctoral Researcher, World Trade Institute, University of Bern

  • Discussion with questions from the audience 


Coffee break


Panel 4 – Filling the gaps: central banks, competent authorities and legislative frameworks

The panel will begin with an analysis of the scope of ECB opinions and their role in contributing to the legislative processes of the European Union and its Member States. The contribution of competent authorities in filling the gaps in the relevant legislative frameworks will be discussed, and the nature of ECB opinions as non-binding legal acts, as well as possible consequences of non-compliance with their content will be examined.


Edouard Fernandez-Bollo, Member of the Supervisory Board, European Central Bank


  • Diane Fromage, Professor, Paris Lodron University Salzburg
  • David Ramos Muñoz, Adjunct professor, University of Bologna and University Carlos III Madrid
  • Miguel Sampol Pucurull, Judge, General Court of the European Union

Discussion with questions from the audience


Lunch break


Panel 5 – Incorporation of environmental considerations in the supervision of prudential risks

This panel will provide an overview of how sustainability as a driver of prudential risks is integrated in the supervision of financial institutions. The discussion will analyse how environmental considerations can be reconciled with the ESCB’s primary mandate as well as with the objectives of prudential supervision. At the same time, the implications of the general duty on Union institutions to protect the environment will be considered.


Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank


  • Suzanne Kingston, Judge, General Court of the European Union
  • Juliana Bolzani, Senior Counsel, International Monetary Fund

  • Veerle Colaert, Professor of Financial Law, KU Leuven

Discussion with questions from the audience


Coffee break


Panel 6 – Monetary Sovereignty: meaning and implications

Monetary sovereignty is a concept that is drawing increased attention in public debate, although different meanings of it exist. The panellists will consider possible definitions and implications of the concept together with its potential limits and pitfalls, in particular with regard to its compatibility with international cooperation and global financial stability. Against this background the potential role of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will also be considered, and in particular the possible impact that they may have on the international role of the euro.


Luis de Guindos, Vice-President, European Central Bank


  • Rhoda Weeks–Brown, General Counsel & Director Legal Department, International Monetary Fund
  • Jens van 't Klooster, Professor, University of Amsterdam
  • Corinne Zellweger-Gutknecht, Professor, Basel and Kalaidos Law School

Discussion with questions from the audience


Concluding remarks and closing of the conference

Chiara Zilioli, Director General Legal Services, European Central Bank


ECB Legal Conference 2023 ends

This programme may be subject to change without notice.

A photographer will be present at the event taking photographs for our internet/intranet webpage. If you prefer not to have your photograph taken, please inform us in advance of the ESCB Legal Conference 2023. The event may be filmed and the video recording (or parts of it) may be published on the internet / intranet.

General information


Kaiserstrasse 29 (Eurotower)
60311 Frankfurt am Main

Conference language


Organising committee

Chiara Zilioli, Antonio Luca Riso


Sophia Merker
Monica Bermudez Leyva
ECB Legal Services