This course will address the structure and the legal framework within which the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem operate, including the historical background of the European monetary union. It will discuss the responsibilities assigned by the Treaty to the ECB and to the national central banks, respectively deciding and conducting the operations for the monetary policy and the payments systems, as well as issues related to the capital of the ECB and the foreign reserves managed by the Eurosystem. The relationship of independent central banks with national and EU political bodies as well as the goal and the consequences of the prohibition of monetary financing will be tackled. The course will also discuss the role of the ECB on the one hand in international financial relations and on the other as an EU institution, including the European Court of Justice's jurisdiction to review the actions of the ECB.
An aim of the course will also be to highlight general issues of central banking, such as issuance of bank notes, central banks' sovereign immunities and documentation of transactions, and to provide a basic introduction into payment systems and the custody and clearing of securities. Finally, the course will touch upon the role played by the ECB in the existing and future European supervisory structures.