Guideline (EU) [2021/2253] of the European Central Bank of 2 November 2021 laying down the principles of the Eurosystem Ethics Framework (ECB/2021/49) (recast)

Publication Date17 December 2021
SubjectEuropean Central Bank (ECB)
Official Gazette PublicationOfficial Journal of the European Union, L 454, 17 December 2021
L_2021454EN.01000701.xml
17.12.2021 EN Official Journal of the European Union L 454/7

GUIDELINE (EU) [2021/2253] OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

of 2 November 2021

laying down the principles of the Eurosystem Ethics Framework (ECB/2021/49)

(recast)

THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 127 and 128 thereof,

Having regard to the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, and in particular Articles 12.1 and 14.3 in conjunction with Articles 5 and 16 thereof,

Whereas:

(1) A number of amendments are to be made to Guideline (EU) 2015/855 of the European Central Bank (ECB/2015/11) (1). In the interests of clarity, Guideline (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11) should be recast.
(2) In order to perform the tasks entrusted to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks (NCBs) of those Member States whose currency is the euro (hereinafter the ‘Eurosystem’) pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Eurosystem adheres to the principles of independence, accountability, transparency and maintains the highest standards of professional ethics and integrity including no tolerance towards inappropriate behaviour and harassment. A governance framework safeguarding these principles and standards is a key element in ensuring the credibility of the Eurosystem and is essential to securing the trust of supervised entities, monetary policy counterparties and Union citizens.
(3) With this in mind, and as an enhancement to the previously applicable Guideline ECB/2002/6 of the European Central Bank (2), the Governing Council in 2015 adopted Guideline (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11), which laid down the principles of a common ethics framework for the Eurosystem (hereinafter the ‘Eurosystem Ethics Framework’) that safeguards the Eurosystem’s credibility and reputation as well as public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the members of the bodies and the members of staff of the ECB and of the NCBs of the Eurosystem.
(4) The Governing Council is of the view that in order to maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and integrity, the existing common minimum standards and rules aimed at preventing insider trading and the misuse of non-public Eurosystem information, as well as at preventing and managing conflicts of interests, should be further developed. To this end, the Governing Council considers it important that the ECB and the NCBs adopt measures aimed at avoiding even any appearance of insider trading, misuse of non-public information or of possible conflicts of interest. While the ECB and the NCBs should have certain latitude in defining the most appropriate framework for such measures, it is at the same time important – in order to adequately protect the reputation of the Eurosystem – that a set of aligned measures, in particular as regards rules on critical private financial transactions, should apply, as a minimum, to members of staff of the ECB and the NCBs when conducting Eurosystem tasks. Those aligned measures should also apply to members of an internal body that has administrative and/or consultative functions relating directly or indirectly to the implementation of Eurosystem tasks carried out by the NCBs.
(5) To further safeguard the trust of supervised entities, monetary policy counterparties and Union citizens that members of staff of the ECB and the NCBs, as well as members of their bodies, serve with complete professional impartiality, perceptions of conflicts of interests should be avoided. To this end, those members of staff and members of bodies who have access to market sensitive information should be required to comply with specific rules and standards when conducting private financial transactions, in particular where those transactions involve regulated entities.
(6) While the Eurosystem Ethics Framework applies solely to the performance of Eurosystem tasks, to ensure the widest possible coherence of integrity and good governance standards across NCBs and national competent authorities (NCAs), the Governing Council adopted Guideline (EU) 2015/856 of the European Central Bank (ECB/2015/12) (3) laying down the principles of an Ethics Framework for the Single Supervisory Mechanism (hereinafter the ‘SSM Ethics Framework’) applicable to the performance of supervisory tasks by the ECB and the NCAs.
(7) The principles established by Guideline (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11) were supplemented by the Eurosystem Ethics Framework Implementation (EEFI) practices (4) approved by the Governing Council and transposed into internal rules and practices adopted by each Eurosystem central bank. These EEFI practices, including in particular Implementation practice No. 4 concerning the compliance function, should be incorporated into the revised Eurosystem Ethics Framework, in a manner which safeguards the principle of organisational autonomy of each Eurosystem central bank.
(8) To ensure that the Eurosystem Ethics Framework continues to reflect appropriate standards and best practices that take into account the state of the art in the central banking community and amongst Union institutions, Guideline (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11) provides for a regular review by the Governing Council. The entry into force of the Code of Conduct for high-level ECB officials (5) (hereinafter the ‘Single Code’), further enhanced uniform standards of professional ethics for all members of high-level ECB bodies and their alternates. Against this background, the Governing Council considers it necessary to adapt the existing standards as provided for in the Eurosystem Ethics Framework.
(9) With a view to providing an interinstitutional forum for exchange on ethics and compliance matters and on issues related to the implementation of Guideline (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11) and Guideline (EU) 2015/856 (ECB/2015/12), the Governing Council established the Ethics and Compliance Officers Task Force (ECTF). In the light of the increasing significance of these matters and the resulting need to strive for more ambitious standards at Eurosystem level as well as to support the coherent implementation of the Eurosystem Ethics Framework, the Governing Council has considered it appropriate to assign to the ECTF enhanced responsibilities and to transform it into a permanent Ethics and Compliance Conference (ECC). These enhanced responsibilities should enable the Eurosystem to adequately address the challenges inherent in the dynamic nature of integrity and good governance standards.
(10) To ensure overall coherence of these ethics frameworks, the main concepts concerning conflicts of interest, acceptance of gifts and hospitality and the prohibition on misuse of non-public information as set out in Guidelines (EU) 2015/855 (ECB/2015/11) and (EU) 2015/856 (ECB/2015/12) should be further developed and aligned with the Single Code. In particular, pre-employment vetting and post-employment restrictions should be extended beyond Eurosystem senior members of staff who report directly to the executive level in order to effectively address concerns regarding ‘revolving doors’ between the central banks and the private sector, in particular financial market participants.
(11) Although the Eurosystem Ethics Framework applies only to the performance of Eurosystem tasks, it is nonetheless desirable that the Eurosystem central banks apply equivalent standards to members of their bodies, their staff and others performing non-Eurosystem tasks.
(12) The provisions of this Guideline are without prejudice to applicable national legislation, in particular labour legislation.
(13) The provisions of this Guideline should be without prejudice to the Single Code and to any requirements of ethical conduct established in specific areas that meet, as a minimum, the principles of the Eurosystem Ethics Framework,

HAS ADOPTED THIS GUIDELINE:

CHAPTER I

General provisions

Article 1

Scope of application

1. This Guideline shall apply to the Eurosystem central banks in the performance of their Eurosystem tasks. In this regard, internal rules adopted by the Eurosystem central banks in the fulfilment of the provisions of this Guideline shall apply to their members of staff and the members of their bodies.

2. The Eurosystem central banks shall aim, to the extent legally feasible, to extend the obligations defined in implementation of the provisions of this Guideline also to any persons involved in the performance of Eurosystem tasks who are not members of staff of the Eurosystem central banks.

Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Guideline:

(1) ‘Eurosystem central bank’ means the European Central Bank or a national central bank of a Member State whose currency is the euro;
(2) ‘Eurosystem task’ means a task entrusted to the Eurosystem according to the Treaty and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank;
(3) ‘Eurosystem Ethics Framework’ means the provisions of this Guideline as implemented by each of the Eurosystem central banks;
(4) ‘non-public information’ means information, irrespective of its form, that pertains to the performance of Eurosystem tasks by the Eurosystem central banks and which has not been made public;
(5) ‘market-sensitive information’ means non-public information of a precise nature which, if made public, is likely to have a significant effect on the price of assets or prices in the financial markets;
(6) ‘member of staff’ means a person who has an employment relationship with a Eurosystem
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