Soft-law mechanisms, hard institutional impacts: how the European Ombudsman is enhancing the European Central Bank’s transparency framework

Camila Villard Duran


This research aims, at first, to map the Ombudsman’s cases involving the ECB since its creation, and then to analyze how they are contributing to broaden the general public’s oversight of monetary regulation beyond markets and politicians. This paper presents the initial assessment of these cases and tries to contribute to the legal literature on how law can assure social accountability of central banks. In the next section, I present the literature gap on central bank transparency and accountability. I also propose one legal perspective, which might bridge this gap. In the third section, I present my first assessment of the Ombudsman’s cases involving the ECB and its monetary regulation. Even though Ombudsman’s pronouncements are non-binding (a very different feature if one compares to Courts), this European institution has been promoting identifiable impacts on ECB transparency. Its soft-law nature is contrasted with hard effects generated by few cases involving the central bank since 1999, as I will explore below. A brief conclusion follows.


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