Publication of the fourth edition of the “Blue Book”

14 August 2007

The European Central Bank (ECB) is today publishing a report entitled “Payment and securities settlement systems in the European Union”, also known as the “Blue Book”. This 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 Member States of the European Community. The second and third editions were published in 1996 and 2001 respectively. This fourth edition updates this information, taking account of the fundamental changes which have taken place in the period from 2001 to 2007.

Following the entry into the EU of the former accession countries (with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia acceding on 1 May 2004, and Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU on 1 January 2007), the scope of the Blue Book has increased significantly. Consequently, for reasons of practicality, this edition of the Blue Book has been split into two volumes. Volume 1 contains a chapter on the euro area and individual country chapters for the countries of the euro area, while Volume 2 contains the country chapters of the non-euro area countries.

The euro area chapter describes aspects and features of payment and securities settlement systems which are common to, or relevant to, the Eurosystem as a whole. This chapter also describes the common legal and regulatory framework, focusing, in particular, on the role of the European Central Bank and the Eurosystem. The individual country chapters deal with the respective national payment and securities settlement infrastructures. These provide an overview of institutional aspects and the major players involved, as well as containing extensive descriptions of payment media used by non-banks, retail payment systems, interbank exchange and settlement systems, and securities settlement systems.

By contrast with previous editions of the Blue Book, this publication does not contain statistical annexes. Instead, the relevant statistical information has been released on an annual basis in the “Blue Book Addenda”. The last Blue Book Addendum, which included 2005 data, was published in December 2006.

This publication has been prepared in cooperation with the national central banks of the EU and can be downloaded from the ECB’s website ( Printed versions will be available in due course from each of the EU national central banks, or from the ECB at the address below.

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