Belgian economist Alexandre Lamfalussy, who headed the institution that became the European Central Bank and was credited as one of the founders of the euro currency, has died at age 86.

The ECB said in a statement Monday that under Lamfalussy's stewardship "core building stones" of the shared currency were put in place, such as a defined monetary policy strategy and the technical foundations to implement it.

Lamfalussy headed the Frankfurt-based European Monetary Institute from 1994-97, laying the groundwork for the introduction of the euro and a supra-national central bank to manage the currency.

The institute became the European Central Bank in July 1998, under its first president, Wim Duisenberg. The euro was introduced on Jan. 1, 1999.