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Status and public access

The Banque de France's archives of internally generated or deposited documents are public and therefore subject to the provisions of the French Heritage Code (Code du patrimoine). In accordance with the authorisation granted by the French government authority responsible for public records, the Banque de France manages, conserves and grants access to its own archives. Nevertheless, the authority retains scientific and technical control over the Banque de France's archives and ensures that institutions that generate public records comply with the legal and regulatory provisions in force.

The Banque de France's archives are consulted in accordance with the terms and conditions set down in Article 4 of Law No. 78-753 of 17 July 1978 establishing various measures to improve relations between the administrative authorities and the public and various administrative, social and fiscal provisions and Articles L. 213-1 to 5 of the French Heritage Code. The Banque de France's archives are therefore fully accessible to the public, subject to the provisions of Article L. 213-2 of the French Heritage Code, which restricts public access to certain categories of documents and seals the records as follows:

  • for 25 years, from the date of the document or the date of the most recent document placed in a file, for records whose public release may notably undermine the conduct of foreign relations, the currency and credit, or violate commercial and industrial confidentiality or statistical confidentiality;

  • for 25 years, from the date of death of the person, for records whose public release may violate medical confidentiality;

  • for 50 years, from the date of the document or the date of the most recent document placed in a file, for records whose public release may notably damage the fundamental interests of the state in its conduct of foreign policy, or undermine public security, individual security or the protection of privacy. The same period applies to records that include assessments or value judgements of a named or easily identifiable natural person, or that reveal the behaviour of a person in such a way as may cause harm;

  • for 75 years, from the date of the document or the date of the most recent document placed in a file, or for 25 years from the date of death of the person concerned if this period is shorter, for records whose public release may violate statistical confidentiality when the data at issue was collected through questionnaires concerning private facts or behaviour. The same periods apply to records that refer to court cases and notarial deeds.

By way of derogation, the French government authority responsible for public records can authorise public access to documents before the end of these fixed periods if the reason for consulting them does not excessively undermine or violate the interests that the law is designed to protect (Article L. 213-3 I of the French Heritage Code).

Documents related to the Banque de France's activities within the framework of the ESCB constitute an exception to these principles, as they are subject to Decision ECB/2004/2 of 19 February 2004 adopting the Rules of Procedure of the European Central Bank, and specifically Article 23.3, which states that documents "shall be freely accessible after a period of 30 years unless decided otherwise by the decision making bodies". Furthermore, Article 5 of Decision ECB/2004/3 of 4 March 2004 on public access to European Central Bank documents states that documents that are in the possession of a national central bank (NCB) and have been drawn up by the ECB, the European Monetary Institute (EMI) or the Committee of Governors may be disclosed subject to prior consultation of the ECB, unless it is clear that the document shall or shall not be disclosed.

It should also be noted that the private records conserved in the Banque de France's archives are subject to the conditions of public access fixed in their deposit agreement.

Updated on: 05/04/2018 15:12