PRESS RELEASE

Assessment of STEP for collateral purposes in Eurosystem credit operations

15 September 2006

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) yesterday decided that the Short-Term European Paper (STEP) market will be accepted as a non-regulated market for collateral purposes in Eurosystem credit operations, as soon as the STEP statistics on yields are published on the ECB’s website.

The ECB will be able to publish such yield statistics as soon as the input data become available and are of sufficient quality to produce reliable statistics. Further details will be provided before the end of 2006.

The STEP initiative aims to foster the integration and development of the European markets for short-term securities through convergence towards the best market standards, which are described in the STEP Market Convention. Information on STEP can be obtained on the STEP Market website (http://www.stepmarket.org).

In order to be eligible as collateral for Eurosystem operations, notes issued under STEP-compliant programmes will also have to comply with all the eligibility criteria listed in Chapter 6 of “The implementation of monetary policy in the euro area: General documentation on Eurosystem monetary policy instruments and procedures” (http://www.ecb.europa.eu/mopo).

The Governing Council assessed the STEP market on the basis of the provisions of the STEP Market Convention and related documents. Retention of the acceptability status will depend on the strict implementation of such provisions.

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