Extracts from the Introductory statement to the press conference
Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. The information that has become available since mid-January broadly confirms our previous assessment. Inflation is likely to stay above 2% for several months to come, before declining to below 2%. Available survey indicators confirm some tentative signs of a stabilisation in economic activity at a low level around the turn of the year, but the economic outlook remains subject to high uncertainty and downside risks. The underlying pace of monetary expansion remains subdued. Looking ahead, it is essential for monetary policy to maintain price stability for the euro area as a whole. This ensures a firm anchoring of inflation expectations in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. Such anchoring is a prerequisite for monetary policy to make its contribution to supporting economic growth and job creation in the euro area. A very thorough analysis of all incoming data and developments over the period ahead is warranted.
Through our non-standard monetary policy measures we will continue to support the functioning of the euro area financial sector, and thus the financing of the real economy. Since the first three-year longer-term refinancing operation (LTRO) was conducted in December 2011 we have approved specific national eligibility criteria and risk control measures for the temporary acceptance in a number of countries of additional credit claims as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations, which should lead to an increase in available collateral. At the start of the current reserve maintenance period on 18 January 2012 the reserve ratio was reduced, freeing up additional collateral. As stated on previous occasions, all our non-standard measures are temporary in nature.