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Martin Benisch

13 June 2007
The European Central Bank (ECB) is one of the few international/supranational institutions based on German territory. As with other international organisations, the ECB enjoys privileges and immunities in order to ensure its independence and proper functioning. This status is sometimes compared to the extraterritorial status of embassies and consulates. However, a closer analysis shows that this conclusion requires some correction and qualification. A supranational institution is confronted with the issue of its status in the host country in a multitude of circumstances, from the legal basis for its exemption from national law, to the extent of its immunity as regards jurisdiction and enforcement to how all this is applied in practice, in particular as regards labour law and taxation. The purpose of this paper is to explain the scope and content of the privileges and immunities granted to the ECB and to illustrate some of the practical legal problems on the basis of examples. In Part I we examine the extent to which the ECB is exempt from national law, in particular German law. In Part II, we discuss the ECB's immunity from jurisdiction and enforcement. Part III deals with the privileges and immunities granted to the members of the ECB's Executive Board and its staff. Part IV contains an examination of some of the problems that arise in practice when implementing the rules on privileges and immunities.
JEL Code
K : Law and Economics