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ECB legal framework

As an EU institution, the ECB operates under clearly defined rules which can be found in primary European Union law (i.e. treaties) and secondary European Union law (e.g. regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions).

The ECB’s general objectives and tasks are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank. Specific banking supervision tasks have been conferred on the ECB by the SSM Regulation which also defines the ECB’s cooperation with national supervisory authorities of the EU countries taking part in European banking supervision.

In carrying out its supervisory tasks, the ECB applies European banking law, particularly the Capital Requirements Directive and Capital Requirements Regulation. They specify the rules that banks must follow relating, for instance, to capital, risk management or governance, and define the corresponding powers of the supervisory authorities. They are complemented by detailed technical standards developed by the European Banking Authority.

EU banking law

Digital compilation of legal acts

The ECB created a compilation of relevant Union legal acts on banking supervision. They are available in English and accessible in all official EU languages through hyperlinks to the EUR-Lex portal.

Explore the three volumes here:

The compilation is updated at regular intervals.

(Last updated: 16 December 2021)

ECB legal acts

The ECB also adopts legal instruments of its own in order to fulfil its supervisory mandate. They include:

Regulations

Crucial among them is the SSM Framework Regulation which sets out institutional relations and procedures within European banking supervision. Other ECB regulations specify how the ECB uses the options or discretions available under European banking law, or impose certain additional obligations on supervised banks, e.g. on the payment of supervisory fees.

Decisions without addressees

These decisions may be used to implement specific provisions of European banking law, for example on the prudential treatment of profits. They may also specify certain internal ECB procedures, such as delegating certain powers to adopt supervisory decisions.

Decisions addressed to individual banks

Such decisions may be used to impose specific obligations on a bank, or to approve a request made by a bank. They can be, for example, decisions on the amount of regulatory capital required, or authorising the use of an internal model to calculate financial risks. If a decision has adverse effects on the bank to which it is addressed, the bank has the right to be heard and the right to request an administrative review of the decision.

Guidelines and instructions

The ECB may address these instruments to national supervisory authorities of euro area countries to harmonise supervisory approaches on specific issues. ECB instructions can also be issued to the supervisory authorities of other EU countries that have entered into supervisory close cooperation with the ECB.

Supervisory guidelines

Recommendations

The ECB normally uses recommendations to harmonise the approaches taken by national supervisory authorities in relation to less significant banks. They may also provide supervisory guidance for significant banks in specific areas, e.g. on their dividend payment policies.

Supervisory recommendations

Opinions

In its advisory role the ECB issues opinions to provide comments on proposed European or national legal acts in the area of banking supervision.

National law

As banking supervisor the ECB also applies relevant provisions of national law, which transpose or complement EU directives in the area of banking supervision.

National supervisory authorities apply the same legal framework as the ECB, complemented by their own statutes and procedures under national law.

Additional information on ECB supervisory legal acts

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