PRESS RELEASE

Publication of the TARGET Annual Report 2004

25 May 2005

The European Central Bank (ECB) is today publishing the TARGET Annual Report 2004. This publication, which is the fifth of its kind, gives an overview of TARGET operations in 2004.

TARGET is the most important large-value payment system in the euro area. Some 10,500 banks use TARGET to initiate payments and more than 48,500 banks – including branches and subsidiaries – are accessible through TARGET worldwide (and thus all the customers of these banks). In 2004 TARGET traffic increased in comparison with the previous year. Around 267,000 payments with a value of EUR 1.7 trillion were transferred on average per business day (after 261,000 payments with a value of EUR 1.65 trillion in 2003). This represents a share in overall large-value payments made in euro of almost 88% in terms of value (after 87% in 2003) and 58% in terms of volume (unchanged from 2003).

Owing to TARGET’s pivotal role in maintaining financial stability in the European Union, the Eurosystem pays very close attention to the reliability and safety of TARGET. As a result, in 2004 the availability rate improved further to 99.81% (from 99.79% in 2003) and the total number of incidents decreased by 25%. Only two of these incidents had a more severe impact on the payment processing capabilities of a local TARGET component. For such events the Eurosystem has business continuity and contingency measures in place. They ensure both the restoration of full processing capability within the shortest time possible and a continued processing of payments deemed critical by the Eurosystem and TARGET users.

The TARGET Annual Report provides information on TARGET payment business and the system’s robustness, resiliency and oversight. In addition, it describes the major developments affecting the TARGET system.

This publication will be distributed by each of the EU national central banks participating in the TARGET system to interested parties in their respective countries. Hard copies can also be requested by writing to the ECB’s Press and Information Division at the address given below. It can also be viewed on or downloaded from the ECB’s website (under “Publications”).

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