The ECB is independent in carrying out its mandate and tasks. As a corollary, the ECB is subject to stringent reporting requirements to the people of Europe and their elected representatives, the European Parliament.
In practice, the ECB maintains a regular dialogue with the European Parliament, mainly via the quarterly testimonies which the ECB President gives to the Parliament´s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and the presentation of the ECB´s Annual Report by the ECB President at a European Parliament plenary session. Other Executive Board members also appear before ECON.
Moreover, the ECB replies to written questions by MEPs, which are published together with the ECB´s answers in the Official Journal of the EU and in Publications.
The creation of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the introduction of the euro can be considered as one of the greatest achievements of European integration. The integration process started in the early 1950s, with the “Schuman Declaration” and the subsequent setting up of the European Coal and Steel Community by six European countries (see Milestones of European integration).
Following the signing in 1957 of the Treaties of Rome (1957) which established the European Economic Community, the integration process was expanded (i.e. more countries joined) and deepened (i.e. more policy areas were included). In 1992, the Member States signed the Treaty of Maastricht, which paved the way for EMU in three stages (Economic and Monetary Union). Within EMU, monetary policy and exchange rate policy are conducted at euro area level, while economic policies have largely remained in the competence of Member States, subject to a European framework (see EMU policy framework).
The ECB was set-up on 1 June 1998 and took over responsibility for the single monetary policy on 1 January 1999. While the ECB is fully embedded in the EU institutional framework, the Treaty provides it with a special status. In particular, the ECB is fully independent (see independence) in carrying out its mandate and tasks.
With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the ECB became an EU institution. This provision was introduced to enhance the transparency of the EU´s institutional framework; it has no important operational consequences for the ECB or the ESCB/Eurosystem.
The ECB interacts with other European institutions and bodies for a number of economic, functional and legal reasons. In particular, the ECB has links with the European Council, the EU (ECOFIN) Council and the Eurogroup, as well as their various preparatory committees (such as the Economic and Financial Committee and the Economic Policy Committee), the European Parliament, the Commission, the European Court of Auditors and the European Court of Justice (see European cooperation).