Both the European Central Bank’s strategic review and response to the Covid-crisis require increased transparency. Today, the ECB doesn’t disclose sufficient information to evaluate the climate impact of its asset purchase programs (quantitative easing). This lack of information impedes the ability of economic and civil society actors to participate in the strategic review and contributes to technologize a political issue. Monetary policy as consequences on citizens’ daily life. This is especially true in a context of crisis, where the economic and financial response could impact European citizens for years and decades. This lack of transparency rises democratic concerns.

We filled two information requests to ask the ECB to disclose the value of assets held under its corporate asset purchase programs and the amount of these purchases and assets linked to the most polluting activities and sectors and fossil fuel development. 

In January, the ECB launched the review of its monetary policy strategy. Due to the Covid crisis, the review was postponed and should be conducted by mid-2021. 

One of the main objectives of the review is to evaluate the effectiveness and potential side effects of the monetary policy conducted by the ECB. By doing so – and following Christine Lagarde’s statements – the review is to consider the integration of climate into the ECB’s operations. 

To reach these objectives, a complete knowledge of the use of unconventional monetary operations is needed. In order to fully participate in the review and assess the effectiveness of this policy, European citizens, governments, companies, and NGOs need to have a detailed and faithful picture of asset purchase programs (APP)

The scale of APP makes this a real matter of democratic transparency: by the end of March, Eurosystem’s holdings reached 2,666.5 billion, 201.5 billion for the corporate sector purchase program (CSPP). Moreover, the ECB’s historical response to the Covid crisis heavily relies on asset purchase through the newly created Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (750 billion) and the increase in previously planned asset purchases (120 billion). 

Today, the ECB discloses the corporate bonds it holds under the CSPP and the PEPP and the total value of its purchase under these programs. However, the ECB doesn’t disclose the value of each separate bond held under the CSPP and PEPP. Furthermore, the ECB provides no information regarding the CSPP and PEPP climate impact and no updated information regarding their distribution by sector or activities.

The ECB should disclose as much information as possible regarding APP, starting with the separate value of each bond it holds under CSPP and PEPP. This information is key:

  • The non-disclosure of bond value makes it impossible to know what CSPP and PEPP finance and, therefore, to determine their environmental impacts.
  • Amid the Covid crisis, the non-disclosure of bond value conceals the amount of financing that PEPP provides to critical sectors such as healthcare. 

Given these elements, we filled two information requests to require the disclosure of:

  1. Separate bond value of CSPP and PEPP assets held by the ECB and the Eurosystem.
  2. Information related to the climate impact of CSPP and PEPP, namely: the amount of CSPP and PEPP assets and purchases linked to fossil fuel companies, the amount and value of CSPP and PEPP assets and purchases linked to the companies listed on the Global Coal Exit List, and, the distribution of CSPP and PEPP assets and purchases by sector or activity.

We hope that these requests are successful, therefore allowing citizens to better understand and appreciate tools that are central to the Covid-10 response and the construction of a desirable “after”.