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The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for Europe's single currency, the euro. The ECB’s main task is to maintain the euro's purchasing power and thus price stability in the euro area. The responsibilities of the ECB are to formulate monetary policy, conduct foreign exchange, hold currency reserves and authorize the issuance of bank notes, among many other things.

The euro area comprises the 19 European Union countries that have introduced the euro since 1999.

It is one of the world's most important central banks and is one of the seven institutions of the European Union (EU) listed in the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

The ECB is governed by European law directly, but its set-up resembles that of a corporation in the sense that the ECB has shareholders and stock capital.

The bank is accountable to European citizens through the European Parliament. The European Union Treaties specify the different channels of accountability, which include the Annual Report.

The ECB is currently chaired by Italian economist Mario Draghi who assumed office in November 2011, succeeding Jean-Claude Trichet.

Draghi was previously the governor of the Bank of Italy from December 2005 until October 2011. In 2014 the famous Italian banker Forbes listed him as the 8th most powerful person in the world. And in 2015 Fortune magazine ranked him as the world's second greatest leader.