Feb 23, 2022

CEF- ECB Partnership Strengthens Institutional Capacity of Central Banks in South East Europe

We are honored to have been partnering with the European Central Bank (ECB) for a number of years to jointly advance our Learning and Knowledge Sharing Program for Central Banks and Financial Supervisory Authorities in South East Europe (SEE). We were happy to talk to Ms. Katrin Arnold, Head of the International Cooperation Office at the ECB about the benefits of our successful partnership and cooperation.

The past two years have been very challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Can you share with us the biggest external and internal challenges your institution had to face and overcome? 

As for most institutions, the first few weeks of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown had a significant impact on the way we work. In March 2020 we had to postpone or cancel all our planned activities as we had no idea how and when the situation would improve. Forward planning was – to put it simply – impossible at that stage. However, like other institutions, we quickly moved activities online and we were fully up and running again by the second half of 2020. This new mode of working has gone from strength to strength, and today we are able to reach out to more partners than ever before. The benefits of this digitalization will stay with us, although we are hoping to find a new balance between physical and online meetings, as there are obviously also tremendous benefits to physical meetings as well. 

Central banking is an important part of the CEF’s programme portfolio. How do you see the cooperation between the ECB and the CEF, and what central banking areas should be in the focus of our next programme planning cycle? 

We in the ECB’s International Cooperation Office welcome the opportunity to draw on the CEF’s experience and expertise as a training hub in this region. This cooperation provides us with a valuable platform to share the ECB’s policy messages and expertise with a region that is of great importance to the EU and the ECB. Going forward, for our central bank cooperation, core central bank topics will continue to be most important. In our fast-evolving world, these include governance issues, such as central bank independence, as much as monetary policy and implementation, financial stability, banking supervision and payment systems – all of which remain key. Of course, within these core areas, there are certain topics that are attracting particular attention these days, such as central bank digital currencies, and climate change and central banking.

What will be some of the key areas of future cooperation between the ECB and national central banks in SEE, especially in the context of the EU accession and pre-accession processes? 

We really appreciate this opportunity to reach out to the entire SEE region, but since you are specifically referring to the EU (pre)accession process, let me say the following: it is important to keep in mind that, upon joining the EU, the relevant central banks will by definition become part of the European System of Central Banks and – in due course – of the Eurosystem. Therefore, we at the ECB naturally have a strong interest in strengthening the institutional capacity of central banks of EU candidates or potential candidates in every aspect to ensure a smooth accession and integration process