This section sets out the individual figures for the claims and liabilities of euro area national central banks (NCBs) vis-à-vis the ECB arising from cross-border payment flows executed through TARGET2. These claims and liabilities are also known as the TARGET balances.
TARGET stands for “Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System”.
Two sets of time series are provided: one contains end-of-month values, the other one monthly averages. Both sets are updated on a monthly basis and published with a one-month time lag on the first working day of each month. So the September data in any given year would be used for publication on the first working day of November.
Individual NCBs’ series are netted figures. They represent total TARGET claims netted against total TARGET liabilities, where positive values represent a net NCB claim on the ECB and negative values a net NCB liability. The ECB figures represent the ECB’s TARGET balances netted vis-à-vis all the NCBs participating in the TARGET system. The TARGET balances of non-euro area NCBs are also provided netted and aggregated vis-à-vis the ECB under the counterpart area code U4. National data are made available for euro area NCBs only.
By design, the sum of all TARGET balances of claims and liabilities (Eurosystem NCBs plus ECB plus non-euro area NCBs) must equal zero.
The composition of the group of “non-euro area NCBs” changes, for example as countries enter the euro area.
As of 1 February 2016, non-euro area countries whose NCBs take part in TARGET2 are Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Poland and Romania. Lithuania, with its NCB, was a non-euro area TARGET participant until 31 December 2014, Latvia until 31 December 2013, Estonia until 31 December 2010 and Slovakia until 31 December 2008.
Individual TARGET balances of euro area NCBs are not provided for dates before the accession of their countries to the euro area.
TARGET is the Eurosystem’s real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system.
It commenced operations on 4 January 1999 following the launch of the euro. The initial TARGET system was then built by linking together the different RTGS structures that existed at the national level.
It was replaced by the Eurosystem’s centralised TARGET2 platform in November 2007. During the transition period, which lasted until May 2008, all national structures were replaced by the single platform.
For simplicity, TARGET and TARGET2 are both referred to here as “TARGET”.
TARGET balances are positions on the balance sheets of all euro area countries’ NCBs and the NCBs of non-euro area EU countries that have joined TARGET on a voluntary basis.
Changes in the TARGET balances of individual NCBs result from the settlement of cross-border payments executed between banks via TARGET.
The ECB’s Governing Council decided in 1999 that TARGET bilateral balances between NCBs should be netted on a daily basis by novation. This means that the constellation of bilateral flows between all NCBs has been replaced with single net positions vis-à-vis the ECB only (see Article 6 of ECB Guideline 2012/27).