The European Central Bank, often referred to as the ECB, is the central bank for the euro area. The ECB is the equivalent to the U.S. Federal Reserve for the countries that have adopted the euro as its currency. It determines a single monetary policy for the euro-area member countries. Prior to the ECB, each country managed its own monetary policy. The ECB was established in 1998, with the aim of maintaining a low rate of inflation for the euro area as a whole.