What the European Central Bank does and what it means for you
1 June 2018 (updated on 30 January 2021)
Proud to serve the 340 million Europeans who use the euro every day
Will the euros in your pocket buy you as much tomorrow as they do today? Can you rely on your bank in good times and bad? There are 4,000 of us working here at the ECB to make sure the answer to these questions is a resounding yes!
We’re based in Frankfurt but we’re from all over Europe, speaking 24 different languages. We also work closely with colleagues from the central bank in your euro area country. Read on to find out ten ways our work relates to you.
We want you to be able to rely on how far your wages will go. If you have steady purchasing power this also helps the economy and employment
1. We safeguard the value of your euros
We don’t want prices to rise so much that your money rapidly loses value. Nor do we want an ongoing period of falling prices because then people delay buying things, which can slow the economy down and lead to job losses. If we keep prices stable people and firms can plan more easily for the future.
2. Our work supports the economy and employment
We use a range of monetary policy tools to keep prices stable. This, in turn, supports the economy, people’s incomes and job creation. Our tools include setting key interest rates for the economy, lending to banks to support the flow of credit to households and businesses, and buying assets to help funding conditions in all parts of the economy.
We want you to save and invest with confidence, so we watch over banks and the financial system
3. We supervise your bank
To make sure you can put your trust in banks in the euro area, since 2014 we have been monitoring how sound and resilient they are; if we find any issues, we require banks to correct them. While we supervise big banks ourselves, for the oversight of smaller banks we work together with the national supervisory authorities.
4. We keep an eye on how stable the financial system is
… to make sure that, even in turbulent times, people can access their bank accounts, businesses can make and receive payments, and investors can trade. A resilient system can withstand shocks without major disruption.
We make sure you can make payments safely, whether by cash, card or online
5. We make euro banknotes
Could you spot a counterfeit banknote? Together with the 19 national central banks we rolled out a new series of euro banknotes in recent years, with updated security features which make counterfeiting all the more difficult.
6. We make sure you can make electronic payments safely
When you make a payment in euro by card or online, we make sure it is soundly and efficiently managed, whether by our own systems or systems we oversee. Our systems are among those that enable banks to transfer your money throughout the EU in just a few seconds.
With your money in mind, we look into new technology and cyber safety
7. We investigate crypto-assets and blockchain
How could “cryptocurrencies” affect banks and your money? How could the new technologies they run on, such as blockchain, improve the way we all make payments? These are things our innovation teams are looking at.
8. We help your bank to be cyber-resilient
To keep your money safe from cybercrime we bring the financial community together to prepare for any cyberthreats. This includes cyber-resilience tests with the help of “ethical hackers”. The hackers try to break into banks’ systems in order to identify any weaknesses.
You are the reason we’re here. We work for you
9. We’re independent so we can act in your best interests
Our independence means we can’t be swayed by short-term political considerations. Rather we focus on what is best for the economy in the medium term, so people living in the euro area can enjoy stability.
10. We’re accountable to you
What we do affects you – the millions of people and businesses in the euro area – and in particular, your decisions to save or invest, to borrow or lend. For this reason we strive to explain our actions to you and we are legally obliged to account for them before your elected representatives in the European Parliament.
It can be 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 Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. While our Visitor Centre in Frankfurt is currently closed owing to the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can take a virtual tour from anywhere in the world!