What is the European Central Bank?
1 June 2018
What does the ECB mean for you in your daily life?
Here are 20 facts to mark our 20th birthday.
- Do you live in the euro area? Then you are one of 340 million people who share a single currency. Our economy is the second largest in the world.
- So that you can feel secure in the knowledge that you will be able to buy as much with your earnings tomorrow as you can today, we at the ECB work to keep prices stable in the euro area – that’s our main task. Since the euro was born on 1 January 1999, inflation has averaged 1.7% – which is lower than in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Why are stable prices important?
- We keep prices stable by setting the interest rates and via other monetary policy measures.
How does the ECB’s asset purchase programme work?
- Together with your countries’ central banks we also produce the euro banknotes you withdraw from the cash machine (we have produced 130 billion notes since 2002!).
Banknote security features
- We keep an eye on the stability of the financial system. We analyse risks to the system and propose macroprudential policies to the euro area governments.
Spotlight on financial stability
- Since 2014 we have been directly supervising the biggest banks in the euro area, so that you can rest assured that they can weather a rainy day. Around 1200 staff are looking closely at 118 big banks and setting guidelines for the sector.
Why supervise commercial banks?
- We make sure that you can make payments safely, whether by cash, card or electronically. This is because we look after the payment systems that make those transactions possible. Our payment system TARGET2 deals with 350,000 transactions a day, with a daily value of €1.7 trillion.
What is TARGET2?
- Speaking of payments, did you know that it will soon be possible to make instant electronic payments via our TIPS system, instead of waiting several days for the payment to arrive?
Coming soon: cross-border instant payments
What is TARGET Instant Payments Settlement (TIPS)?
- We research blockchain and other new financial technologies, and we are active in the field of cyber resilience. This is so we can ensure that payment systems continue to be safe, resilient and efficient.
How could new technology transform financial markets?
Why is cyber resilience important?
- We are independent. This means we can’t be swayed by any national bias.
Why is the ECB independent?
- We are constantly in touch with other European and international institutions and we give legal assessments on financial legislation.
How is the ECB accountable for its actions?
- We are into big data. Our brightest statistical minds are constantly working on data in all kinds of areas, which helps inform our monetary policy decisions.
Why do statistics matter?
- You can rely on us. In 2012 our President, Mario Draghi, famously said: “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.” Together with others we weathered the euro area sovereign debt crisis.
- Our monetary policy contributes to the euro area’s growing economy. Did you know that the average GDP per person in the euro area has gone up from around €21,000 to around €32,000 since the creation of our currency?
- Our policies also support employment. Between 2012 and 2017, seven million new jobs were created in the euro area and 71% of people of working age are now in work.
- We are based in Frankfurt, Germany. Our offices are in the new skyscraper in the Ostend, and the Eurotower and Japan Centre in the banking district.
About the ECB’s main building
- The more than 3000 of us working here are from all over Europe, speaking 23 different languages.
- We cultivate an inclusive working environment at the ECB. Our staff networks include the Rainbow Network, the WOW network (Women Organise Women) and the Ethnic and Cultural Group.
Diversity and inclusion at the ECB
- There are falcons nesting on the top of the ECB skyscraper in the Ostend of Frankfurt, which is 185 meters high. We also look out for any hawks or doves that might visit the bird houses in our grounds…
- Sometimes it’s hard to connect with us, we know. But we’d love to chat with you more often. Here’s our contacts page. You can also engage with us on and LinkedIn, or if you are ever in Frankfurt, pop by our Visitor Centre!