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Powers of the ECB to impose sanctions

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Powers of the ECB to impose sanctions


Regulation (EC) No 2532/98 – powers of the European Central Bank to impose sanctions


The European Central Bank (ECB) conducts the monetary policy of the euro area with the primary objective of maintaining price stability. It also supervises banks in the euro area and other EU countries that have chosen to participate in the Single Supervisory Mechanism.

In the exercise of its monetary policy and supervisory tasks, the ECB may impose sanctions on undertakings (e.g. credit institutions) that fail to comply with ECB or EU legal acts.


It sets out the conditions under which the ECB may impose fines or periodic penalty payments on any undertakings that do not comply with obligations arising from ECB and EU legal acts.


The upper limit for fines on undertakings is €500 000 or, in the case of sanctions imposed in relation to the ECB’s supervisory tasks, twice the amount of the profits gained or losses avoided because of the infringement or 10 % of the total annual turnover of the undertaking.

The upper limit for periodic penalty payments is €10 000 per day of infringement or, in the case of sanctions imposed in relation to the ECB’s supervisory tasks, 5 % of the average daily turnover per day of infringement.

When considering a sanction, the ECB takes into account:

  • the good faith and openness of the undertaking concerned;
  • the seriousness of the impact of the infringement;
  • the profits obtained by the undertaking from the infringement;
  • the economic size of the undertaking;
  • any prior sanctions imposed on the undertaking for the same infringement by other competent authorities.

The Executive Board decides whether to initiate an infringement procedure.

The undertaking concerned is given no fewer than 30 days in which to present its defence to the ECB or to its national central bank.

The Executive Board adopts a reasoned decision on whether to impose sanctions on the undertaking. Within 30 days of receiving the decision, the undertaking may request the Governing Council to review the decision. Failing that, the decision becomes final.

If requested, the Governing Council will review the decision of the Executive Board and notify the undertaking concerned of its conclusion. It will inform the undertaking of its right of judicial review.

The infringement procedure must be triggered within 1 year of the existence of the infringement becoming known to the ECB or to the national central bank of the jurisdiction where the infringement occurred. Failing that, it expires.

Council Regulation (EU) 2015/159 added new provisions to enable the ECB to impose sanctions in the exercise of its supervisory tasks. The new rules set out the fines, time limits and procedures which are applicable in such cases.


Council Regulation (EC) No 2532/98 of 23 November 1998 concerning the powers of the European Central Bank to impose sanctions (OJ L 318 of 27.11.1998, pp. 4-7)

last update 11.08.2015