Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. Incoming information confirms that the moderate recovery of the euro area economy is proceeding in line with our previous assessment. At the same time, recent information remains consistent with our expectation of a prolonged period of low inflation followed by a gradual upward movement in HICP inflation rates. The signals from the monetary analysis confirm the picture of subdued underlying price pressures in the euro area over the medium term. Inflation expectations for the euro area over the medium to long term continue to be firmly anchored in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2%.
Looking ahead, we will monitor developments very closely and will consider all instruments available to us. We are resolute in our determination to maintain a high degree of monetary accommodation and to act swiftly if required. Hence, we do not exclude further monetary policy easing and we firmly reiterate that we continue to expect the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time. This expectation is based on an overall subdued outlook for inflation extending into the medium term, given the broad-based weakness of the economy, the high degree of unutilised capacity and subdued money and credit creation. At the same time, we are closely following developments on money markets. The Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using also unconventional instruments within its mandate in order to cope effectively with risks of a too prolonged period of low inflation.
The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area continue to be on the downside. Developments in global financial markets and in emerging market economies, as well as geopolitical risks, may have the potential to affect economic conditions negatively. Other downside risks include weaker than expected domestic demand and insufficient implementation of structural reforms in euro area countries, as well as weaker export growth.
To sum up, the economic analysis confirms our expectation of a prolonged period of low inflation followed by a gradual upward movement in HICP inflation rates towards levels closer to 2%. A cross-check with the signals from the monetary analysis confirms the picture of subdued underlying price pressures in the euro area over the medium term.
The Governing Council sees both upside and downside risks to the outlook for price developments as limited and broadly balanced over the medium term. In this context, the possible repercussions of both geopolitical risks and exchange rate developments will be monitored closely.