Independence and secrecy

De Nederlandsche Bank is responsible for guarding the financial stability in the Netherlands. The three main prerequisites for financial stability are: low inflation, secure payments and sound and healthy financial institutions.

The following two characteristics are essential for proper execution of our activities:

  • the independence of our institution, and
  • the duty of secrecy resting on our activities. 

Independence

DNB is independent in the field of monetary policy and payments, the tasks performed by DNB as part of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). The president of DNB is a member of the ECB Governing Council and in that capacity co-decides monetary policy. The Governing Council consists of the governors of all central banks of the euro area and the ECB Executive Board. The Governing Council meets twice a month. Entirely independently, this Governing Council decides what monetary policy is best for the euro area as a whole. The central bank governors together promote the joint European interest. Their decisions are independent of national and political interests.

DNB is furthermore expected to provide economic policy advice, on request or unasked, both at the national and international level. For this task, too, independence is of the essence. This is why the members of DNB’s Governing Board, including the President, are appointed by the minister for a seven-year term.

As supervisor for financial institutions’ soundness, DNB is an independent public body. In that capacity DNB is accountable to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

The day-to-day management of DNB, a public limited company with the State as sole shareholder, is in the hands of the Governing Board. The Supervisory Board monitors DNB’s management and operational aspects. Its responsibilities include approving the budget and annual report and adopting the annual accounts. One Supervisory Board member is appointed by order the Minister of Finance. The Supervisory Board has no substantive control over the monetary policy, the advisory function, and the payments and supervision-related activities of DNB.

Secrecy

The societal relevance of DNB’s tasks requires that DNB informs the public about what it does and why it does what it does. Obviously, DNB gladly does so frequently and on a regular basis, through Quarterly Bulletins, Annual Reports, press releases, interviews, speeches etc. Yet, there are limits to what DNB can be open about. DNB is bound by law to observe secrecy regarding both its system-related tasks (monetary policy and payments) and its supervisory activities. In the first place, secrecy is a prerequisite for DNB's supervision to be effective, for the institutions under DNB's supervision must be absolutely sure that the competition-sensitive information they provide will not be made public.

In the second place, secrecy is of vital importance for the dynamics of the financial sector. If information about problems at a given bank were to come out in the open, the situation might worsen rapidly. DNB must therefore first seek to solve problems at financial institutions behind the screens without disclosing anything about these problems to the public, also not afterwards. This duty of secrecy not only applies in our country, but also in the other countries of the European Union.