European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Thursday the bank will keep its COVID-19-related economic stimulus package in place as the 19-nation Eurozone economy continues facing economic threats from the pandemic.
Speaking in Berlin, Lagarde said that while newly approved vaccines and vaccination programs in Europe are a plus, the surges of COVID-19 cases throughout the continent have prompted new lockdowns and restrictions that affect the service economy of most nations.
"The pandemic continues to pose serious risks to public health and to the euro area and global economies," she said.
Last year, the ECB implemented an emergency COVID-19 stimulus package that includes government and corporate bond purchases designed to pump money into member nations’ economies, keeping interest rates low and giving businesses access to cheap loans. The companies have used such loans to pay furloughed workers during the pandemic.
In December, the bank added $607 billion to the plan, bringing the value of the program to $2.2 trillion, and extended it to March 2022.
Lagarde said given the recent surge in infections and the resulting economic restrictions put in place throughout Europe, the bank is prepared to offer even more economic support.
Much like the Federal Reserve does in the United States, the ECB is the chief monetary authority for countries that use the euro, setting interest rates and supervising banks. So far, 19 of the 27 EU countries have adopted the euro as their main currency.