European Central Bank (ECB)

The European Central Bank and the national central banks of the EU countries that have adopted the euro together constitute the Eurosystem, the central banking system of the euro area.

The main objective of the Eurosystem is to maintain price stability: safeguarding the value of the euro. Price stability is essential for economic growth and high employment.

The ECB was established on 1 June 1998 and is located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is an institution of the European Union at the heart of the Eurosystem and the Single Supervisory Mechanism.

Decision-making bodies of the ECB

Governing Council

The Governing Council is the supreme decision-making body of the ECB.

The Governing Council is the supreme decision-making body of the ECB. It comprises the six members of the Executive Board (President, Vice-President and four other members), plus the governors of the national central banks of the EU Member States which have adopted the euro (currently 19 governors).

The Governing Council makes the strategically most important decisions for the Eurosystem: it is responsible for formulating monetary policy for the euro area and establishing the guidelines to be followed by the NCBs of the Eurosystem in the implementation of monetary policy.

The Governing Council formulates monetary policy for the euro area with full independence from political interference. As members of the Governing Council, the governors of the national central banks play a crucial role in decisions relating to monetary policy.

This supranational responsibility is underlined by voting rules of the Council whereby each member has one vote. Since 2015, voting rights in the Governing Council are exercised according to a rotation system.

The governors of the national central banks of the Eurosystem participate in the Governing Council in a personal capacity as individuals and not as representatives of the respective Member States.

In the context of the ECB’s new responsibilities related to banking supervision, the Governing Council adopts decisions relating to the general framework under which supervisory decisions are taken, and adopts the complete draft decisions proposed by the Supervisory Board under the non-objection procedure.

The Governing Council usually meets twice a month at the ECB’s premises in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The Governing Council assesses economic and monetary developments and takes its monetary policy decisions every six weeks. At the other meetings, the Council discusses mainly issues related to other tasks and responsibilities of the ECB and the Eurosystem. To ensure the separation of the ECB’s monetary policy and other tasks from its supervisory responsibilities, separate meetings of the Governing Council are held.

The monetary policy decision is publicly announced in a press release and explained in detail at a press conference held every six weeks. The President, assisted by the Vice-President, chairs the press conference.

General Council

The General Council can be regarded as a transitional body.

The General Council can be regarded as a transitional body. It will exist as long as there are EU Member States outside the euro area and has no powers relating to monetary policy. It usually meets every three months in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and comprises the President and the Vice-President of the ECB and the governors of the national central banks (NCBs) of the 28 EU Member States.

The General Council contributes to:

  • the submission of reports on the convergence achieved by EU Member States that have not adopted to euro;
  • the coordination of monetary and exchange rate policies in the EU;
  • the taking of measures relating to the establishment of the key for the ECB's capital subscription other than those laid down in the Treaty;
  • the laying-down of the conditions of employment of the members of staff of the ECB; and
  • the necessary preparations for irrevocably fixing the exchange rates of the currencies of the "EU Member States with a derogation" against the euro.

Executive Board

The Executive Board implements monetary policy for the euro area in accordance with the guidelines specified and decisions taken by the Governing Council.

The Executive Board implements monetary policy for the euro area in accordance with the guidelines specified and decisions taken by the Governing Council. In so doing, it gives the necessary instructions to the euro area NCBs.

It also prepares Governing Council meetings, manages the day-to-day business of the ECB, and exercises certain powers delegated to it by the Governing Council. These include some of a regulatory nature.

The Executive Board consists of the President and Vice-President of the ECB and four other members.

Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board meets every three weeks to discuss, plan and carry out the ECB’s supervisory tasks. 

The Supervisory Board meets every three weeks to discuss, plan and carry out the ECB’s supervisory tasks. It also proposes draft decisions to the Governing Council.

It consists of the Chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the Vice-Chair (chosen from among the members of the ECB's Executive Board), four ECB representatives and representatives of national supervisors.

The Bank of Greece, as national supervisor, has one representative in the Supervisory Board.

ECB and the Eurosystem explained in 3 minutes
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