The ECB's decision was not unanimous

Berlin correspondent



The great artillery that the ECB took out On March 18, to guarantee the financing of the European States and their expenses against the coronavirus, he did not obtain unanimous support from the Governing Council of the European entity. The minutes of the meeting, published today in Frankfurt, reveal that the Council supported purchases of debt worth 750,000 million euros after observing a new fragmentation of financial markets in the euro area and the rise in risk premiums in some countries, backed by "a large majority" of its members but with votes against.

The minutes also record the revision that the Council made of the decisions taken previously, on March 12, “in conditions in which the scale of the dthose challenges had not been clear enough». So the Governing Council of the ECB he had to re-analyze the situation, as justified by his chief economist, Philip Lane, who proposed the large operation to buy public and private debt until the end of the year. "A large majority of members supported Lane's proposal to launch a new pandemic emergency debt purchase program, record the minutes.

The document makes it clear that it was the outbreak of a new crisis in the risk premiums of the euro zone that caused the president of the institution, Christine Lagarde, to urgently call her entire government council to take immediate measures that they give an oxygen balloon to the governments that, nevertheless, found some resistance.

One of the counterproposals presented at the meeting was the suggestion by some members of the council to reactivate the program of unlimited purchases of public debt, OMT, which Mario Draghi designed during his mandate to alleviate tensions in the Italian and Spanish public debt. The idea was rejected. According to allegations presented by other members, that the document does not identify, and that they argued that the program "was designed to tackling a totally different contingency and safeguard the integrity of the ECB's monetary policy, at a time of strong tensions in the sovereign debt markets of some countries and in particular, to counter unfounded fears about the reversibility of the euro. "

Some of the Council members did not even want to activate a special program and preferred that the ECB limit itself to using only the debt purchase program already in force, endowed with 200,000 million. "The feeling was that the current program, given the magnitude and timing of the shock, is not adequate," the agency concluded. One of the main innovations of the program approved by the ECB versus the traditional one is that it will be able to acquire Greek sovereign debt and that it will have total geographic flexibility to make the acquisitions.

In Frankfurt it is rumored that It was the presidents of the central banks Germany, Austria and the Netherlands who refused to activate this purchasing program, although this information has not been officially confirmed. There would also have been disagreement on the message to send to the markets. The idea that the Governing Council of the ECB is open to review the limits and extend this debt purchase program as necessary did not enjoy the approval of all and some of those present asked to make it clear that the answer will be in any case « proportional to the risks ». In this sense, criticism focused on those limits being a safeguard for the institution to act within its mandate. They further argued that this is a "premature" discussion and that it could lead to being perceived as a instrument to directly finance the States, something that the ECB has prohibited in its statutes.

In subsequent statements, the President of the ECB, Christine Lagarde has played down the lack of agreement among eurozone members both within the presiding council and within the Eurogroup. He has specifically referred to the "coronabonos", insisting that he has the instruments to guarantee that no State will fail, without the urgent need for new instruments. "If some points are laborious" in the negotiation, "it is not surprising," he told France Inter radio, "the idea of ​​a collectively funded reconstruction fund would be formidable. But I don't think we're there yet.


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