Governing Council

The Governing Council is the supreme decision-making body of the ECB. It consists of all the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the national central banks of the 20 euro area countries.

Its main responsibilities are:

  • To adopt the guidelines and take the decisions necessary to ensure the performance of the tasks entrusted to the ESCB.
  • To formulate monetary policy for the euro area. This includes decisions relating to monetary objectives, key interest rates, the supply of liquidity in the Eurosystem, and the establishment of guidelines for the implementation of those decisions.
  • To adopt decisions relating to the general framework under which supervisory decisions are taken, and to adopt, where appropriate, the complete draft decisions proposed by the Supervisory Board.

When adopting decisions on monetary policy and other Eurosystem functions, the Governing Council members act in a fully independent capacity, and not as representatives of their respective countries. Monetary policy and supervisory duties are completely separate in the functioning of the Governing Council.

The Governing Council generally meets every two weeks at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, although it may also do so by teleconference. Meetings in other euro area countries are currently held once a year, on a rotating basis. The Banco de España’s headquarters in Madrid hosted the first meeting held outside Frankfurt, on 30 March 2000. Meeting 333 of the Governing Council was held in Barcelona, on 3 May 2012.

As regards decision-making, each Governing Council member has, in principle, one vote. However, given the increasing number of euro area countries, and in order to boost the Governing Council's ability to take action, a rotation system of voting rights has been implemented since 1 January 2015 (when, upon Lithuania’s accession, the number of euro area countries, and central bank governors, exceeded the pre-established limit of 18).

Decisions are adopted in most cases by a simple majority, except where they refer to assets, capital or transfers of foreign and other reserves, which require a qualified majority, where the votes of the representatives are weighted according to the national central banks’ share in the capital of the ECB.