PRESS RELEASE

New version of “The implementation of monetary policy in the euro area: General documentation on Eurosystem monetary policy instruments and procedures”

15 September 2006

The European Central Bank (ECB) is today publishing a revised version of the document entitled “The implementation of monetary policy in the euro area: General documentation on Eurosystem monetary policy instruments and procedures” (referred to as the “General Documentation”). The new version is an annex to Guideline ECB/2006/12 amending Guideline ECB/2000/7 on monetary policy instruments and procedures of the Eurosystem. The amending Guideline has been adopted by the ECB’s Governing Council and will be applicable from 1 January 2007.

The amendments mainly relate to the introduction of non-marketable assets in the Eurosystem's collateral framework and represent the final step in the gradual introduction of a single framework for eligible collateral, common to all Eurosystem credit operations (also referred to as the “Single List”). This single framework replaces the two-tier collateral system that has been in place since the start of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) – see previous press releases of 5 August 2004 – entitled “Review of the Eurosystem’s collateral framework: second step towards a single list” – and 22 July 2005 entitled “Eurosystem collateral framework: Inclusion of non-marketable assets in the Single List”.

This single framework for eligible collateral comprises two distinct asset classes – marketable and non-marketable assets. The Eurosystem has defined specific eligibility criteria and a specific credit assessment framework for the non-marketable assets that are uniform across the euro area in order to ensure that these assets comply with similar collateral standards as marketable assets. Furthermore, specific operational procedures were developed for the safe transfer and mobilisation of non-marketable assets. For a specific asset type within non-marketable assets – credit claims (also often referred to as bank loans) – an interim period until 31 December 2011 is foreseen, in which a limited number of eligibility and operational criteria will still be different across the euro area. In particular, in this interim period, the national central banks may choose the minimum threshold for the size of credit claims eligible for use as collateral and may decide whether a handling fee should be applied for their use.

The original two-tier collateral framework was adopted by the Eurosystem to ensure a smooth transition to the euro. Assets were divided into two tiers in order to accommodate differences in financial structures between Member States at the beginning of EMU. Tier one assets consisted of marketable assets that fulfilled euro-area wide eligibility criteria, while tier two assets comprised assets deemed of particular importance at the national level, for which specific eligibility criteria were established by the national central banks. Tier-two assets that do not qualify under the eligibility criteria for the single framework will be phased out by 31 May 2007.

The Eurosystem will continue to monitor the adequacy of its collateral framework. In particular, it will pay close attention to the functioning of the new framework for non-marketable assets.

The English version of the document can be obtained in electronic format from the ECB’s website, as from 3 p.m. ECB time (CET) today. Versions in other official Community languages will be made available at a later stage. Hard copies will be available, free of charge, as from 24 October 2006 and can be ordered in writing from the ECB’s Press and Information Division or from any of the EU national central banks.

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