Dan O'Brien: Why 2014 will be the ECB's greatest challenge to date
The European Central Bank, which celebrated its 15th birthday on New Year's Day, is among the continent's most powerful institutions. It does everything from setting interest rates for the 330 million citizens of the euro area, to keeping the banking system liquid, to bailing out member countries, and more besides.
How it has exercised these powers has often generated controversy. Expect more controversy in 2014. Personalities, divisive policy issues, dealing with new powers that it is being granted and politics will all see to that.
When the ECB was established in the late 1990s, the over-riding objective it was given was to keep consumer prices stable. It can claim considerable success in achieving that mandate -- inflation has been kept well under control over the past decade-and-a-half.