Excerpts from the Introductory statement to the press conference held in Nicosia in February 2015:
Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, and in line with our forward guidance, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. As regards non-standard monetary policy measures, the focus is now on implementation.
Following up on our decisions of 22 January 2015, we will, on 9 March 2015, start purchasing euro-denominated public sector securities in the secondary market. We will also continue purchasing asset-backed securities and covered bonds, which we started last year. As previously stated, the combined monthly purchases of public and private sector securities will amount to €60 billion. They are intended to be carried out until the end of September 2016 and will, in any case, be conducted until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation which is consistent with our aim of achieving inflation rates below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.
We have already seen a significant number of positive effects from these monetary policy decisions. Financial market conditions and the cost of external finance for the private economy have eased further, also following our previous monetary policy measures. In particular, borrowing conditions for firms and households have improved considerably. Moreover, money and credit dynamics have been firming.
The substantial additional easing of our monetary policy stance supports and reinforces the emergence of more favourable developments for the euro area economy. In an environment of improving business and consumer sentiment, the transmission of our measures to the real economy will strengthen, contributing to a further improvement in the outlook for economic growth and a reduction in economic slack. Thereby, our measures will contribute to a sustained return of inflation towards a level below, but close to, 2% over the medium term and underpin the firm anchoring of medium to long-term inflation expectations.
The Governing Council will continue to closely monitor the risks to the outlook for price developments over the medium term. In this context, we will focus in particular on the pass-through of our monetary policy measures, geopolitical developments, and exchange rate and energy price developments.
The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area remain on the downside but have diminished following recent monetary policy decisions and the fall in oil prices. The bank now sees GDP growth accelerating to 1.5 percent in 2015 from last year's 0.9 percent and ahead of its December forecast for 1.0 percent. It foresees GDP growth of 1.9 percent in 2016, higher than December's forecast, and of 2.1 percent in 2017. It cut its 2015 inflation forecast to zero percent from 0.7 percent seen in December and raised the 2016 forecast to 1.5 percent from December's 1.3 percent. It sees inflation rising to 1.8 percent, near the ECB's target of just under 2 percent in 2017.