Extracts from the Speech by ECB President Mario Draghi at the EP’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee:
The euro area growth momentum has weakened over the summer months and most recent forecasts have been revised downwards. At the same time, our expectation for a moderate recovery in 2015 and 2016 remains in place.
Risks to the economic outlook continue to be on the downside. In particular, the weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum, alongside heightened geopolitical risks, could dampen confidence and, in particular, private investment. In addition, insufficient progress in structural reforms in euro area countries constitutes a key downward risk to the economic outlook.
In this context, let me emphasise that we are committed to scale the total magnitude of our measures – lending operations as well as outright purchases – up to a size that can deliver the intended support to inflation and the recovery of the euro area economy. All these measures will have a sizeable impact on our balance sheet, which we expect to move towards its early 2012 dimension. This will ensure that our accommodative monetary policy stance will contribute to a gradual recovery and a return of inflation rates in the medium term to levels closer to our aim of below but close to 2%.
Nonetheless, we need to remain alert to possible downside risks to our outlook for inflation, in particular against the background of a weakening growth momentum and continued subdued monetary and credit dynamics. We therefore need to closely monitor and continuously assess the appropriateness of our monetary policy stance. If necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate. In this context, we have also tasked relevant ECB staff and Eurosystem committees with the timely preparation of further measures to be implemented, if needed. Such measures could include further changes to the size and composition of the Eurosystem balance sheet, if warranted to achieve price stability over the medium term.
Monetary policy alone – however – cannot overcome financial fragmentation in the euro area. Fragmentation across national borders also reflects underlying national imbalances and institutional deficiencies.
Overcoming these require determined structural reforms on the side of national governments to improve the business environment and setting incentives to invest, with the aim to boost productivity, create new jobs and raise the growth potential of the economy.
2014 has been a year of profound change. But what has been achieved so far is not enough. 2015 needs to be the year when all actors in the euro area, governments and European institutions alike, will deploy a consistent common strategy to bring our economies back on track. Monetary policy alone will not be able to achieve this. This is why there is an urgent need to agree on concrete short-term commitments for structural reforms in the Member States, on a consequent application of the Stability and Growth Pact, on the aggregate fiscal stance for the euro area, on a strategy for investment, and to launch work on a long-term vision to further share sovereignty ensuring the sustainable and smooth functioning of EMU