Volkswirtschaft I, Geld und Währung
The euro area encompasses those Member States of the European Union in which the euro has been adopted as the single currency and in which a single monetary policy is conducted under the responsibility of the decision-making bodies of the European Central Bank. The euro area currently comprises Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland.
Euro symbol (€)
The graphic symbol for the euro was inspired by the Greek letter epsilon and refers to the first letter of the word “Europe”. The parallel lines represent the stability of the euro. The official abbreviation for the euro is EUR, which has been registered with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is used for business, financial and commercial purposes.
European Central Bank (ECB)
The European Central Bank was established on 1 June 1998 and is situated in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It ensures that the tasks conferred upon the Eurosystem and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) are implemented either by its own activities pursuant to the Statute of the ESCB or through the national central banks.
The Eurosystem comprises the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks of the Member States which have adopted the euro in or Stage Three of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). There are currently 12 national central banks in the Eurosystem. The Eurosystem is governed by the Governing Council and the Executive Board of the ECB and has assumed the task of conducting the single monetary policy for the euro area since 1 January 1999. Its primary objective is to maintain price stability.
European System of Central Banks (ESCB)
The European System of Central Banks (ESCB) comprises the ECB and the national central banks of all 15 Member States of the European Union. It includes, in addition to the members of the Eurosystem, the national central banks of the Member States which have not adopted the euro. The ESCB is governed by the Governing Council, the Executive Board and the General Council of the ECB.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
The Treaty establishing the European Community sets out the process of achieving Economic and Monetary Union in the European Union in three stages.
Stage One of EMU started in July 1990 and ended on 31 December 1993. It was mainly characterised by the dismantling of all internal barriers to the free movement of capital within the European Union.
Stage Two began on 1 January 1994. It provided for, inter alia, the establishment of the European Monetary Institute (the forerunner of the European Central Bank), the prohibition of financing of the public sector by the central banks and of privileged access to financial institutions for the public sector, and the avoidance of excessive deficits.
Stage Three started on 1 January 1999 with the transfer of monetary competence to the Eurosystem and the introduction of the euro.
Decision-making bodies of the ECB
The Governing Council comprises all the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the national central banks of the Member States which have adopted the euro.
The Executive Board comprises the President and the Vice-President of the ECB and four other members appointed by the Heads of State or Government of the Member States which have adopted the euro.
The General Council comprises the President and the Vice-President of the ECB and the governors of all the national central banks of the Member States of the European Union.
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