Cooperation between central banks goes back a long way. It began with the creation of an international network of major central banks in the first half of the 20th century, notably with the establishment of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in 1930. Central bank cooperation comprises exchanges of expertise, a sharing of best practices as well as contributions to capacity-building.
The essence of central bank cooperation is the transfer of expertise and know-how. In doing so, they not only help each other to improve their levels of professionalism, effectiveness, independence and transparency, but also contribute to promoting global monetary and financial stability.
Central bank cooperation covers a wide range of activities. Assistance may be given by central banks through their training centres, offering a variety of training courses or other learning events, or it may take the form of conferences and seminars which are attended by representatives of other central banks. Assistance may also be given directly to the beneficiary institutions, e.g. through the permanent secondment of staff, support in institution building and policy set-up, or regular missions, either at technical or policy level. Central banks may act unilaterally or conclude agreements with non-central banks (such as international financial institutions, EU institutions or their own governments) to coordinate activities and at times obtain external financing.
The ECB provides ad hoc assistance to central banks globally on a bilateral basis. Such support may come from traditional central bank policy areas and from support and technical functions. The activity may take the form of visits to the ECB or ECB staff visits abroad.
The ECB also provides training to staff from other central banks. More information on such training can be found in The ECB's central banking training programme.
Further information can also be found in The Eurosystem as a provider of technical assistance to EU Neighbouring Regions in the July 2008 Monthly Bulletin.
Before the establishment of the ECB, the Eurosystem and the ESCB, national central banks of the EU took part in large multi-year central bank cooperation programmes financed by the European Commission. This form of assistance – called twinning – proved particularly successful, because it created a strong institutional link between institutions performing the same tasks, in the donor and beneficiary countries. Twinning agreements may be contracted by one public institution of an EU Member State – such as a national central bank – which may in turn link up with institutions from other Member States to form a consortium.
Since 2003, the ECB has signed agreements with the European Commission which can be considered comparable to twinnings and which likewise aim to achieve specific results. These agreements are entered into by the ECB also on behalf of the participating national central banks of the Eurosystem and ESCB. Such agreements benefit from the ECB’s capacity to enter into a single financial agreement with the European Commission on behalf of a number of national central banks. This is furthermore in line with the Eurosystem’s commitment to perform its tasks effectively and efficiently, in a spirit of cooperation and teamwork.
Further information on ECB-coordinated, EU funded central bank cooperation programmes of can be found on the Completed programmes and Ongoing programmes tabs.
From 1 April 2008 until 31 March 2011, the ECB and eight national central banks of the Eurosystem supported the central bank of the Russian Federation (Bank of Russia) in the areas of banking supervision and internal audit. The overall objective of the banking supervision component of the programme was to help the Bank of Russia to maintain the stability of the Russian banking system. The purpose was to modernise the rules, policies and practices in the area of banking supervision so as to bring them into line with the internationally accepted principles established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision commonly known as Basel II Framework, drawing on the experience of the Basel II implementation in the European Union. The internal audit component of the programme aimed to contribute to the Bank of Russia’s efforts in enhancing the risk-based internal audit function through training by, and consultations with, the experts of the Eurosystem in respect of best practices in risk-based internal audit in the Eurosystem in general as well as with specific reference to the internal audit of foreign exchange reserves management and the use of IT tools and systems.
From 1 November 2003 until 31 October 2005, the ECB and nine national central banks plus three non-central bank supervisory agencies of the EU supported the central bank of the Russian Federation (Bank of Russia) in its efforts to implement a risk-based banking supervision methodology. The programme involved training a total of 1,000 supervisory staff working in the regional branches of the Bank of Russia sharing with them the risk-based supervisory practices in the EU. To this end, 64 training courses and four high-level seminars were held in Russia and Bank of Russia staff visited banking supervisors in the EU. A handbook entitled “Banking supervision – European experience and Russian practice” was prepared in English and Russian as self-study material for staff of the Bank of Russia.
From 1 December 2005 until 30 November 2007 the ECB and four national central banks of the Eurosystem supported the Central Bank of Egypt in an overall revision of its administrative and operational procedures in banking supervision with the goal of moving towards a risk-based approach. The work covered six areas: ongoing surveillance, inspections, macro-prudential analysis, regulation and standard-setting, methodology and information technology and a training curriculum for banking supervisors. More than 70 events, including expert missions, study visits, training courses and other consultations took place over the two years.
From 1 April 2010 until 30 September 2011 the ECB and seven national central banks supported the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts to implement the central banking standards of the EU in preparation for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the EU. Experts from the central banks in Bulgaria and Romania also contributed. The 18-month programme was a follow-up to the needs assessment programme carried out in 2007 and covered six central banking areas, the first three of which persued the recommendations from the aforementioned 2007 programme: i) statistics; ii) economic analysis and research; iii) financial stability; iv) harmonisation of legislation with the EU; v) coordination of integration with the EU; and vi) improvement of the IT services at the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
From 1 March until 31 August 2007 the ECB and eight national central banks from the EU supported the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina by identifying the specific topics on which the bank will need to make progress in order to reach a level compatible with that of a central bank of an EU Member State, in seven central banking areas (coordination of banking supervision, economic analysis and research, financial stability, internal audit, monetary policy implemented under a currency board arrangement, payment systems and statistics). The level should be reached by the time Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes an EU Member State and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina enters the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). The ECB and partner national central banks identified 71 recommendations that the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has started to implement.
From 1 September 2008 until 31 May 2009 the ECB and 17 national central banks from the EU supported the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) by identifying the specific topics on which the bank will need to make progress in order to reach a level compatible with that of a central bank of an EU Member State, in six central banking areas (supervision of banks, harmonisation with the acquis communautaire of legislation under the competence of the NBS, liberalisation of capital movements, conduct of monetary policy and the exchange rate regime, monetary, financial and balance-of-payments statistics, and financial services consumer protection). The level should be reached by the time Serbia becomes an EU Member State and the National Bank of Serbia enters the European System of Central Banks (ESCB).The ECB and partner national central banks identified 69 recommendations that the Central Bank of Serbia has started to implement. Below is a link to the press release relating to the programme.
From 19 January 2010 until 18 January 2012 the ECB, together with 14 national central banks of the euro area, offered an assistance programme for EU candidates and potential candidates. The aim was to strengthen macro and micro-prudential supervision in the western Balkans and Turkey. The Eurosystem conducted the programme in close cooperation with the international financial community, benefiting from the expertise of those bodies and institutions in Basel, Brussels, London and Washington which are already committed to the same objective of reviewing and strengthening the supervisory framework, also in line with the G20 recommendation. The programme included more than 20 training events and three high-level policy workshops in the first year, and involved around 36 institutions. During the second year, the programme provided bilateral support to the eight beneficiaries to help them develop certain supervisory capacities and this was followed by exercises in crisis preparedness and management. Please refer to the following links for more information about this programme.
From 1 January 2009 until 31 March 2012 the ECB and seven national central banks of the EU supported the Central Bank of Egypt in strengthening banking supervision in Egypt by gradually updating rules, regulations, reporting frameworks and the supervisory practices of the bank and moving them towards basic Basel II compliance, in line with the strategy devised by the Central Bank of Egypt and presented to commercial banks at an event in Cairo on 14 October 2009. The process of reform involves consultating the banking industry on qualitative issues as well as quantitative impact studies.
 the Deutsche Bundesbank, the Bank of Greece, the Banco de España, the Banque de France, the Banca d’Italia, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank and Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank.
 the Deutsche Bundesbank, the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland, the Banco de España, the Banque de France, the Banca d’Italia, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, the Banco de Portugal, Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank.
 Rahoitustarkastus/Finansinspektionen, Finansinspektionen and Financial Services Authority.
 the Deutsche Bundesbank, the Bank of Greece, the Banque de France and the Banca d’Italia.
 The Deutsche Bundesbank, the Bank of Greece, the Banco de España, the Banca d’Italia, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank and Banka Slovenije.
 the Deutsche Bundesbank, Eesti Pank, the Bank of Greece, the Banco de España, the Banque de France, the Banca d’Italia, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank and Banka Slovenije.
 the Nationale Bank van België/Banque Nationale de Belgique, the Българска народна банка (Bulgarian National Bank), Česká narodní banka, Danmarks Nationalbank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, Eesti Pank, the Bank of Greece, the Banque de France, the Banca d’Italia, the Central Bank of Cyprus, Latvijas Banka, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Narodowy Bank Polski, Banka Naţională a României and the Bank of England.
 Nationale Bank van België/Banque Nationale de Belgique, Bank of Greece, Banco de España, Banque de France, Banca d’Italia, Central Bank of Cyprus, Banque centrale du Luxembourg, Central Bank of Malta, De Nederlandsche Bank, Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Banco de Portugal, Banka Slovenije, Národná banka Slovenska, Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank.
 Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/99).
 the Bulgarian National Bank, Česká národní banka, Deutsche Bundesbank, Bank of Greece, Banque de France, Banca d’Italia and Banca Naţională a României.
From 1 February 2011 until 31 January 2013 the ECB and 21  national central banks are supporting the National Bank of Serbia in its efforts to implement the central banking standards of the EU in preparation for the Republic of Serbia’s accession to the EU. The 24-month programme is a follow-up to the needs assessment programme carried out in 2008-2009. It covers 11 central banking areas, some of which were also covered during the needs assessment programme: i) financial sector supervision; ii) legal harmonisation; iii) liberalisation of capital movements; iv) foreign exchange reserve management; v) monetary and exchange rate operations; vi) financial services consumer protection; vii) EU accession support; viii) economic analysis and research; ix) statistics; x) payment systems; and xi) financial stability.
 Nationale Bank van België/Banque Nationale de Belgique, Българска народна банка (Bulgarian National Bank), Česká narodní banka, the Deutsche Bundesbank, Eesti Pank, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Bank of Greece, the Banco de España, the Banque de France, the Central Bank of Cyprus, the Banque centrale du Luxembourg, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Narodowy Bank Polski, the Banco de Portugal, Banca Naţională a României, Banka Slovenije, Národná banka Slovenska, Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank and the Bank of England.