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Legally, both the ECB and the NCBs of the euro area have the right to issue euro banknotes. In practice, however, only the NCBs physically issue and withdraw euro banknotes. The ECB does not have a cash office and is not involved in any cash operations. As for euro coins, the sole legal issuers are the euro area countries. The European Commission coordinates all coin-related matters at the euro area level. For further information, see the relevant pages of the European Commission’s website.

Responsibilities of the ECB and the NCBs

The ECB is responsible for overseeing the activities of the NCBs and promoting the further harmonisation of cash services within the euro area, while the NCBs are responsible for the functioning of their national cash distribution systems. The NCBs put banknotes and coins into circulation via the banking system and, to a lesser extent, the retail industry. The ECB cannot perform these operations, as it does not have the relevant technical departments (distribution units, banknote processing units, vaults, etc.).

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