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International reserves

The international reserve assets of the euro area consist of the Eurosystem’s reserve assets, i.e. the ECB’s reserve assets and those held by the national central banks (NCBs) of the euro area Member States. Reserve assets are:

  • Under the effective control of the ECB or the NCBs of the euro area Member States
  • Highly liquid, marketable and creditworthy foreign currency-denominated claims on non-residents of the euro area

Reserve assets also include monetary gold, special drawing rights (SDRs) and IMF reserve positions.

Foreign-currency claims on euro area residents and euro-denominated claims on non-residents of the euro area are not considered to be reserve assets, either at the national or euro area level.

Official reserve assets

A monthly statistical statement reports the Eurosystem stocks at market prices with a breakdown by monetary gold, SDRs, IMF reserve positions and other reserve assets.

A more detailed breakdown by instrument is included in the international reserves template and in the quarterly international investment position. The balance of payments also includes a detailed breakdown of the transactions in official reserve assets by instrument. Monthly changes in stocks due to price and exchange rate revaluations are incorporated in the monthly balance of payments press release.

International reserves template

The template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity (international reserves template) is a statistical statement that reports, with the appropriate breakdown, stocks of official reserve assets, other foreign currency assets and future and potential inflows and outflows of foreign exchange reserves associated with on and off-balance-sheet positions of the Eurosystem at a reference date that will or may occur in the following 12 months.


Selected features

The official reserve assets figures are not fully comparable with those of the Eurosystem’s weekly financial statements because of differences in coverage and valuation.

The ECB carries out sales of gold in compliance with the Central Bank Gold Agreement and the Joint Statement on Gold. These transactions lead to changes in the volume of the Eurosystem’s gold holdings.

The ECB, in accordance with its Guideline ECB/2011/23 on the ECB’s statistical reporting requirements in the field of external statistics, requires NCBs to report monthly data in order to compile the stock of international reserves held by the Eurosystem. The ECB publishes euro area aggregates as well as the national data collected in this respect.

Sources and methods

The data are compiled in accordance with the Statistical treatment of the Eurosystem’s international reserves, October 2000 and the European Union Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistical sources and methods - “B.o.p. and i.i.p. book”, November 2016.

The concepts and definitions used are in line with international statistical standards:

Legal framework

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