This paper analyses the ECB’s accountability and transparency framework and related practice over its 20 years of existence. It examines three sets of issues. First, it looks at the ECB’s legal and institutional framework at the time of its inception. Second, it examines how its accountability framework has evolved in practice over the years, primarily through the ECB’s own initiatives. Third, it examines the (remaining) gaps in the ECB’s accountability and transparency arrangements across its fields of activity (monetary policy, bailout programmes, and banking supervision), which have grown over the years. It will be argued that the ECB’s accountability framework has not evolved sufficiently to match its expanded powers. Formidable challenges remain, in terms of both the preconditions and instruments of accountability. This is even more so with respect to its recently added tasks, viz. its role as a crisis manager and in the first pillar of the European Banking Union.
This paper discusses the judicial accountability of the ECB and, more generally, the influence of case law in shaping its institutional status and powers. It places the discussion in the more general context of the judicial accountability of central banks and the role of courts in economic and monetary policy. The discussion is organized by reference to three themes: central bank independence, the distinction between economic and monetary policy, and prudential supervision. Some of the litigation involving the ECB is par excellence constitutional in nature and revolves around established fault lines, e.g. the division of competences between the EU and the Member States, albeit in a new context. Other cases fall within the realm of EU administrative law, the frontiers of which are redefined by composite and hybrid forms of governance. The discussion seeks to capture the fact that ECB powers are affected not only by judgments delivered in proceedings where the ECB is not involved.
This paper seeks to re-situate the ECB within the EU's institutional landscape by establishing how its different components including for instance its preparatory committees compare to other EU institutions and bodies. In doing so, it also examines how the logics that govern the ECB's organs have evolved over time. Among other things the attribution of competences in the area of banking supervision to the ECB following the creation of the Banking Union has brought about certain changes, thereby arguably leading to the national component becoming stronger.