Introductory statement to the press conference
Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. Owing to high energy prices and increases in indirect taxes in some euro area countries, inflation rates are expected to remain above 2% throughout 2012, but then to fall below that level again in the course of next year and to remain in line with price stability over the policy-relevant horizon. Consistent with this picture, the underlying pace of monetary expansion remains subdued. Inflation expectations for the euro area continue to be firmly anchored in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. Economic growth in the euro area is expected to remain weak, with ongoing tensions in some euro area financial markets and high uncertainty still weighing on confidence and sentiment. Our decisions as regards Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) have helped to alleviate such tensions over the past few weeks, thereby reducing concerns about the materialisation of destructive scenarios. It is now essential that governments continue to implement the necessary steps to reduce both fiscal and structural imbalances and proceed with financial sector restructuring measures.
The Governing Council remains firmly committed to preserving the singleness of its monetary policy and to ensuring the proper transmission of the policy stance to the real economy throughout the euro area. OMTs will enable us to provide, under appropriate conditions, a fully effective backstop to avoid destructive scenarios with potentially severe challenges for price stability in the euro area. Let me repeat again what I have said in past months: we act strictly within our mandate to maintain price stability over the medium term; we act independently in determining monetary policy; and the euro is irreversible.
We are ready to undertake OMTs, once all the prerequisites are in place. As we said last month, the Governing Council will consider entering into OMTs to the extent that they are warranted from a monetary policy perspective as long as programme conditionality is fully respected. We would exit from OMTs once their objectives have been achieved or when there is a failure to comply with a programme. OMTs would not take place while a given programme is under review and would resume after the review period once programme compliance has been assured.
To sum up, the economic analysis indicates that price developments should remain in line with price stability over the medium term. A cross-check with the signals from the monetary analysis confirms this picture.
Finally, it is essential to push ahead with European institution-building. The ECB welcomes the Commission proposal of 12 September 2012 for a single supervisory mechanism (SSM) involving the ECB, to be established through a Council regulation on the basis of Article 127(6) of the Treaty. The Governing Council considers an SSM to be one of the fundamental pillars of a financial union and one of the main building blocks towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union. We will formally issue a legal opinion in which we will, in particular, take into account the following principles: a clear and robust separation between supervisory decision-making and monetary policy; appropriate accountability channels; a decentralisation of tasks within the Eurosystem; an effective supervisory framework ensuring coherent oversight of the euro area banking system; and full compatibility with the Single Market framework, including the role and prerogatives of the European Banking Authority. As the Commission proposal sets out an ambitious transition schedule towards the SSM, the ECB has started preparatory work so as to be able to implement the provisions of the Council regulation as soon as it enters into force.