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Ombudsman accepts ECB's refusal to give public access to euro banknote statistics

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has accepted that the European Central Bank is entitled to refuse public access to statistics about stocks and flows of euro banknotes. This follows a complaint from a UK citizen who turned to the Ombudsman after the ECB refused to give him access to the information.

The Bank says that releasing the information "could jeopardise the security of both the storage of banknotes and their subsequent transfer between national central banks...Furthermore, such information could undermine the security of the persons responsible for the stocks and/or involved in the transportation of banknotes".

The Ombudsman states that "the arguments advanced by the ECB concerning public security are reasonable and justify the decision to refuse access".

However, the Ombudsman rejects the Bank's argument that information about country-specific stock data "might worry the public unnecessarily and therefore lead to irrational behaviour". The ECB offers no evidence to substantiate this argument, he says. It does not seem to relate to any of the exceptions provided for in the Bank’s rules on access to documents. According to the complainant, this argument, if accepted, would substantially undermine the right of access to information.

Note for editors:

The ECB’s rules on public access to its documents are contained in the Decision of the European Central Bank of 3 November 1998 (ECB/1998/12), concerning public access to documentation and the archives of the European Central Bank, 1999 OJ L110/30.

The Ombudsman's decision can be found on his website at:


For further information, please call Mr. Ian Harden, Head of the Legal Department, tel. +33 3 88 17 23 84.

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