The governing bodies of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) are written into the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) as if all EU member states had adopted the euro currency. In practice, the European Central Bank (ECB) is at the core of the Eurosystem, including the national central banks of the eurozone countries, but additional decision-making structures will have to accommodate three groups of “outsider” countries for a long time, possibly even permanently:
First, there are the old member states the United Kingdom and Denmark with, in principle, permanent opt-outs from the single currency, and Sweden technically not fit for the third stage of economic and monetary union (EMU).
The second group consists of the new member states with a derogation, not yet able (or willing) to adopt the euro currency.
Third, future EU member states will mean new recruits to the non-euro group, if the enlargement process continues, before they fulfil the convergence criteria.
Article 107(3) TEC reflects the “official position”, which is a reality for the 15 (soon 16) eurozone countries (in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/88):
Article 107(3) TEC
3. The ESCB shall be governed by the decision-making bodies of the ECB which shall be the Governing Council and the Executive Board.
Protocol (No 18) on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank (OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/256─280) repeats and elaborates on the treaty provisions in Chapter III Organisation of the ESCB.
The single currency evidently needs centralised decision-making structures, reflected in the ESCB Statute, which reiterates that the decision-making bodies of the ESCB are those of the ECB:
Article 8 ESCB Statute
The ESCB shall be governed by the decision-making bodies of the ECB.
The rest of Article 107(3) TEC is repeated in Article 9.3 of the ESCB Statute, which names the Governing Council and the Executive Board of the ECB as the decision-making bodies:
Article 9 ESCB Statute
The European Central Bank
9.1. The ECB which, in accordance with Article 107(2) of this Treaty, shall have legal personality, shall enjoy in each of the Member States the most extensive legal capacity accorded to legal persons under its law; it may, in particular, acquire or dispose of movable and immovable property and may be a party to legal proceedings.
9.2. The ECB shall ensure that the tasks conferred upon the ESCB under Article 105(2), (3) and (5) of this Treaty are implemented either by its own activities pursuant to this Statute or through the national central banks pursuant to Articles 12.1 and 14.
9.3. In accordance with Article 107(3) of this Treaty, the decision making bodies of the ECB shall be the Governing Council and the Executive Board.
The basic treaty provisions on the composition of the decision-making bodies are set out in Article 112 TEC (ex Article 109a). The core group is the ECB Executive Board, with six members, the President, the Vice-President and four other members. They are also members of the larger Governing Council, where the Governors of the national central banks sit:
Article 112 TEC
1. The Governing Council of the ECB shall comprise the members of the Executive Board of the ECB and the Governors of the national central banks.
2. (a) The Executive Board shall comprise the President, the Vice-President and four other members.
(b) The President, the Vice-President and the other members of the Executive Board shall be appointed from among persons of recognised standing and professional experience in monetary or banking matters by common accord of the governments of the Member States at the level of Heads of State or Government, on a recommendation from the Council, after it has consulted the European Parliament and the Governing Council of the ECB.
Their term of office shall be eight years and shall not be renewable.
Only nationals of Member States may be members of the Executive Board.
Article 10 of the ESCB Statute modifies the voting rights in the ECB Governing Council, when the number of Eurosystem national central banks increases, for the first time when the number exceeds 15 (as it will on 1 January 2009), if the Governing Council does not decide to postpone the rotation system until the number of governors exceeds 18.
For certain decisions the votes are weighted according to the national central banks' shares in the subscribed capital of the ECB.
ESCB Statute Article 11 reiterates and expands upon the provisions on the ECB Executive Board in Article 112 TEC.
The main responsibilities of the ECB Governing Council and the Executive Board are set out in Article 12 of the ESCB Statute.
ECB Executive Board members
The first President of the Executive Board was Wim Duisenberg (from 1998 to 2003). The appointment of the current President Jean-Claude Trichet runs from 2003 to 2011.
Lucas Papademos is Vice-President and the four other members of the Executive Board are: Gertrude Trumpel-Guderell, José Manuel González-Páramo, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi and Jürgen Stark.
The European Central Bank offers additional information on the Executive Board, including current and past members, at:
ECB Governing Council members
In addition to the six members of the Executive Board, the ECB Governing Council consists of the governors of the fifteen Eurosystem national central banks:
Guy Quaden (Nationale Bank van België / Banque Nationale de Belgique)
Axel A. Weber (Deutsche Bundesbank)
John Hurley (Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland)
Georgios Provopoulos (Bank of Greece)
Miguel Fernández Ordóñez (Banco de España)
Christian Noyer (Banque de France)
Mario Draghi (Banca d’Italia)
Athanasios Orphanides (Central Bank of Cyprus)
Yves Mersch (Banque centrale du Luxembourg)
Michael C. Bonello (Central Bank of Malta)
Nout Wellink (De Nederlandsche Bank)
Ewald Nowotny (Oesterreichische Nationalbank)
Vítor Manuel Ribeiro Constáncio (Banco de Portugal)
Marko Kranjec (Banka Slovenije)
Erkki Liikanen (Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank)
The ECB’s web page on the Governing Council is available at:
Member States with a derogation
ECB General Council
The General Council of the European Central Bank is, in principle, a transitional body, where the President and the Vice-President of the ECB Executive Board and the governors of the Eurosystem national central banks are joined by the 12 governors of the non-eurozone national central banks.
Article 44 of the ESCB Statute on transitional tasks provides that the ECB shall take over those tasks of the EMI which, because of the derogations of one or more member states, still have to be performed in the third stage, and that the ECB shall give advice in the preparations for the abrogation of the derogations specified in Article 122 TEC.
ESCB Statute Article 45 is the main provision on the composition of the General Council:
Article 45 ESCB Statute
The General Council of the ECB
45.1. Without prejudice to Article 107(3) of this Treaty, the General Council shall be constituted as a third decision-making body of the ECB.
45.2. The General Council shall comprise the President and Vice-President of the ECB and the Governors of the national central banks. The other members of the Executive Board may participate, without having the right to vote, in meetings of the General Council.
45.3. The responsibilities of the General Council are listed in full in Article 47 of this Statute.
The Rules of Procedure of the General Council are dealt with in Article 46 and the Responsibilities of the General Council are laid down in Article 47 of the ESCB Statute.
ECB General Council members
In addition to the President and the Vice-President of the ECB Executive Board and the governors of the Eurosystem national central banks the ECB General Council joins the 12 governors of the non-eurozone national central banks (member states with a derogation):
Ivan Iskrov (Bulgarian National Bank)
Zdeněk Tůma (Česká národní banka)
Nils Bernstein (Danmarks Nationalbank)
Andres Lipstok (Eesti Pank)
Ilmārs Rimšēvičs (Latvijas Banka)
Reinoldius Šarkinas (Lietuvos bankas)
András Simor (Magyar Nemzeti Bank)
Slawomir Skrzypek (Narodowy Bank Polski)
Mugur Isǎresku (Banca Natională a Romăniei)
Ivan Šramko (Národná banka slovenska)
Stefan Ingves (Sveriges Riksbank)
Mervyn King (Bank of England)
The ECB’s web page on the General Council is accessible at: