The ECB’sAsset Purchase Programme (APP) is part of a package of non-standard monetary policy measures that also includes targeted longer-term refinancing operations, and which was initiated in mid-2014 to support the monetary policy transmission mechanism and provide the amount of policy accommodation needed to ensure price stability.
It consists of the
Between October 2014 and December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of securities under one or more of the asset purchase programmes. During the net asset purchase phase, monthly purchase pace averaged:
€60 billion from March 2015 to March 2016
€80 billion from April 2016 to March 2017
€60 billion from April 2017 to December 2017
€30 billion from January 2018 to September 2018
€15 billion from October 2018 to December 2018
Between January 2019 and October 2019, the Eurosystem fully reinvested the principal payments from maturing securities held in the APP portfolios. The Governing Council aimed to maintain the size of its cumulative net purchases under each constituent programme of the APP at their respective levels as at the end of December 2018.
On 12 September 2019 the ECB Governing Council decided that “net purchases will be restarted under the Governing Council’s asset purchase programme (APP) at a monthly pace of €20 billion as from 1 November 2019. The Governing Council expects them to run for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.”
Note: The average monthly APP targets were first set by the ECB Governing Council at the beginning of the PSPP in March 2015.
In addition, reinvestments of the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP will continue, in full, for an extended period of time past the date on which the Governing Council begins to raise the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.
The table presents the Eurosystem holdings at the end of the month and a breakdown in the change of Eurosystem holdings.
Eurosystem holdings under the asset purchase programme
Changes of holdings (previous month)
Holdings* in January 2020
Monthly net purchases
Quarter-end amortisation adjustment and redemptions of coupon STRIPS
Holdings* in February 2020
*At amortised cost, in EUR millions, at month-end.
Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision.
Amortisation adjustment are made at the end of each quarter. The amortisation emerges from an accounting principle that implies that securities purchased at prices below face value have to be revalued upwards over time towards maturity, and revalued downwards over time, if purchased at prices above face value.
STRIPS are accounted for at the end of each month (see Question 1.4 in the Q&A).
The stock of Eurosystem APP bonds stood at €2,732 billion at the end of February 2020. The cumulative net purchases are illustrated below.
The Eurosystem adheres to the principle of market neutrality via smooth and flexible implementation. To this end, the Governing Council decided to distribute the reinvestment of principal redemptions through time to allow for a regular and balanced market presence.
The table presents estimated monthly redemptions for the next 12 months.
Expected monthly redemption amounts for the APP over a rolling 12-month horizon (in EUR millions)
*Actual redemption, based on month end data.
ECB estimates in italics. Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision.
Note: Realised redemptions may differ from estimated redemptions.
Between 8 June 2016 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of corporate sector bonds under the corporate sector purchase programme (CSPP). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the CSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the CSPP.
The Eurosystem conducted net purchases of public sector securities under the public sector purchase programme (PSPP) between 9 March 2015 and 19 December 2018. As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the PSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the PSPP.
The securities covered by the PSPP include:
nominal and inflation-linked central government bonds
bonds issued by recognised agencies, regional and local governments, international organisations and multilateral development banks located in the euro area
Since December 2018 government bonds and recognised agencies make up around 90% of the total Eurosystem portfolio, while securities issued by international organisations and multilateral development banks account for around 10%. These proportions will continue to guide the net purchases.
Securities purchased under the PSPP are made available for securities lending to support market liquidity and collateral availability in the market.
20 March 2020
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of debt securities under the PSPP
Book value as of February 2020 (EUR mln)
Cumulative net purchases as of end December 2019*
Monthly net purchases
Cumulative net purchases*
WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings end December 2019**
Current WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings**
* Cumulative monthly net purchases figures represent the difference between the acquisition cost of all purchase operations and the redeemed nominal amounts.
** Remaining weighted average maturity (WAM) in years.
Notes: Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision. The monthly purchase volumes are reported net of redemptions.
The Eurosystem will continue to adhere to the principle of market neutrality via smooth and flexible implementation. To this end, the reinvestment of principal redemptions will be distributed over the year to allow for a regular and balanced market presence(see press release on technical parameters for the reinvestment).
When assessing the remaining WAM of Eurosystem holdings relative to a market measure, deviations could reflect, inter alia, the 1 to 30 year maturity range of purchases; the issue share limits taking into account holdings in other Eurosystem portfolios; as well as the availability and liquidity conditions in the market during the implementation period; and the impact of portfolio redemptions and their respective reinvestments.
Between 21 November 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of asset-backed securities under the asset-backed securities purchase programme (ABSPP). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the ABSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the ABSPP.
Between 20 October 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of covered bonds under a third covered bond purchase programme (CBPP3). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the CBPP3 portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the CBPP3.
On 10 May 2010, the central banks of the Eurosystem started purchasing securities in the context of the Securities Markets Programme (SMP), with a view to addressing the severe tensions in certain market segments which had been hampering the monetary policy transmission mechanism. Following a Governing Council decision on 6 September 2012 to initiate outright monetary transactions, the SMP was terminated. The existing securities in the SMP portfolio will be held to maturity. For details see the press release: Technical features of Outright Monetary Transactions; as well as ECB decision of 14 May 2010ECB/2010/5 and the press release of 10 May 2010: ECB decides on measures to address severe tensions in financial markets.
With a view to leaving liquidity conditions unaffected by the programme, the Eurosystem re-absorbed the liquidity provided through the SMP by means of weekly liquidity-absorbing operations until June 2014. On 5 June 2014, the ECB suspended the weekly fine-tuning operations sterilising the liquidity injected by the programme and the last operation was allotted on 10 June 2014.
20 March 2020
* at amortised cost
Total Eurosystem SMP holdings by issuer as at 31 December 2019
Nominal amount (EUR billions)
Book value* (EUR billions)
Average remaining maturity (years)
* SMP holdings are valued at amortised cost.
** Totals may not add up due to rounding.
On 2 July 2009, the Eurosystem launched its first covered bond purchase programme?(CBPP1). The programme ended, as planned, on 30 June 2010 when it reached a nominal amount of €60 billion. The Eurosystem intends to hold the assets bought under this programme until maturity.
In November 2011, the Eurosystem launched a second covered bond purchase programme (CBPP2). The programme ended, as planned, on 31 October 2012 when it reached a nominal amount of €16.4 billion. The Eurosystem intends to hold the assets bought under this programme until maturity.