PRESS RELEASE

Publication of the third edition of the "Blue Book"

29 June 2001

Frankfurt am Main, 29 June 2001

The European Central Bank (ECB) is today releasing to the public a report entitled "Payment and securities settlement systems in the European Union", also known as the "Blue Book". It describes the major payment and securities settlement systems operating in the Member States of the European Union (EU). The first such report was published in 1992 and described the systems which existed in the then 12 countries of the European Community. The second edition, published in 1996, gave an overview of the systems operating in the 15 countries of the European Union. The present third edition updates this information, taking into account the fundamental changes which have taken place since the introduction of the euro on 1 January1999.

The introduction of the euro has fostered the integration of payment and securities settlement systems in Europe, in particular within the euro area. In order to reflect these changes, the third edition introduces a euro area chapter which describes aspects and features of payment and securities settlement systems which are common to, or relevant to, the euro area as a whole. The euro area chapter also describes the common EU legal and regulatory framework and focuses on the role of the ECB and the Eurosystem.

The country chapters deal with the national payment and securities settlement infrastructure. They also provide an overview of institutional aspects and of the major players involved, as well as containing extensive descriptions of the payment media used by non-banks, retail payment systems, interbank exchange and settlement systems and securities settlement systems.

The statistical tables provide country-specific data for the years 1995-99, while the comparative tables covering all 15 countries are based on figures for 1998 and 1999.

The publication has been prepared in co-operation with the national central banks of the EU.

The report is available for download from the Blue Book web page on the ECB's website. Printed versions will be available from each of the EU national central banks or from the ECB at the following address:

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