The European Central Bank (ECB) plays a critical role in Europe’s economy - the world’s second largest. The ECB is the central bank for the euro, a currency used by 19 member states which constitute the Eurozone. It is responsible for administering monetary policy of the member states, which together make up one of the largest currency areas in the world; this makes the ECB one of the world’s most important central banks.
The ECB controls the monetary policy of the member states in a number of ways, one of which is its sole right to decide the issuance of euro banknotes and the authorization for the issuance of euro coins. The issuance of currency and the strict control of monetary policy enable the ECB to achieve its primary objective, i.e. the maintenance of price stability in the euro area (keeping inflation as low as possible and preventing deflation).
Among other tasks assigned to the ECB are conducting foreign exchange operations, taking care of foreign reserves, as well as other assets, promoting the smooth operation of the Target2 interbank payment system for the real-time processing of cross-border transfers throughout the union and devising policies to take on the challenges that face the euro in these challenging economic times.
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