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Immunities and exemptions of ECB staff and directors. Read and amaze



Every now and then we speak of “medieval privileges,” to indicate misplaced privileges that are anachronistic in their enormity. Well, I will now present the privileges that have been granted, by statute, to the ECB, and you can then evaluate them.

Foreword: clearly, supranational institutions enjoy legal privileges of varying degrees to protect their work. It is curious, however, that such a high degree of protection exists for institutions that, however, operate in a well-defined territory, dealing with advanced legal systems and democratic governments. The governors of the Fed, to take one example, do not enjoy the privileges of the ECB.

Partial exemptions from national laws. The national law in question is, for the ECB, German law.

Exemption from income taxation. This is the most logical exemption because, otherwise, the ECB would have difficulty carrying out its tasks. Moreover, it would be Germany alone that would enjoy it.

Exemption from duties and import restrictions. It’s interesting, isn’t it? This only applies to non-EU imports; domestic imports are already exempt.

Exemption from national labor and social security laws. Not that ECB workers are not protected; they are hypertrophically so, but there are no payments to the national social security system or welfare in nature. What the ECB pays stays with the ECB.

Exemption from the data protection law. No national laws apply to the ECB, at most European regulations.

Jurisdictional and law enforcement immunities.


Total jurisdictional immunity: No national court can make judgments concerning the ECB if jurisdiction can be vested in the European Court of Justice. There is general incompetence. Any action against the ECB must be dismissed. National courts can have jurisdiction only for cases not referred to the ECJ, but since the ECJ’s jurisdiction is very broad, there are really only a few residual cases. The ECB has already appealed several times to the ECJ against entities or states.

Immunity from law enforcement: The ECB has broad immunity from the application of national laws, which is exercised in the following ways:

  • Inviolability of the seat and buildings of the ECB. The national police, in this case, the German police, cannot enter the ECB’s headquarters, its branches, or the buildings leased to it. Access is possible only with a request from the ECB. Moreover, the police cannot restrict or prevent access to the buildings in any way. At the same time, however, the government must protect its premises.
  • Inviolability of the ECB’s means of transportation. Cars and other means of transportation for the ECB are also exempt.
  • Inviolability of ECB archives and communications. No wiretapping.

Personal immunities:

  • ECB staff are regarded as public officials of the host state.
  • ECB staff enjoy complete immunity from prosecution when acting in “official form.” This is a broader exemption than for diplomatic corps, as they are legally accountable in their home countries, whereas this is not the case for ECB staff. Moreover, the concept of “staff” is not defined, leaving it to the ECB itself to set the limits.

Exemption from national tax laws. ECB staff are exempt from the application of national tax laws for all emoluments received from the ECB. Who knows why? An “Internal EU System” is applied, rather comfortably in line with that of “other international organizations.”
Exemption from immigration restrictions for staff and their family members.
Immunity for board members.

ECB Executive Board members and their family members have the same exemption provided for ambassadors. In addition to not being able to be subject to any legal action, their residences and correspondence are inviolable and they are even exempt from paying indirect taxes (read: what they personally buy is VAT-free)
Immunities are only for the members of the executive board, not for the presidents of national central banks.
In short, what can I say? Working for the ECB is a real cakewalk!!!

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