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The ECB's pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) should end "when the emergency is over and its dampening effect on inflation disappears," Executive Board member Luis de Guindos said in an interview published late Thursday, citing the progress of vaccination campaigns and the possible emergence of new Covid strains as key to determining whether it finishes in March 2022 as expected.

Asked whether PEPP's flexibility should be transferred to APP once the former comes to an end, de Guindos noted that bond purchases have been broadly in line with the capital key, despite some initial deviation in the early stages of the pandemic. Financial stability will play a more prominent role in decision-making than previously, de Guindos said, with the integration of economic and monetary and financial analysis adopted by the ECB following its strategy review, and explicitly incorporating financing stability considerations, a "major step."

Europe's economy will have returned to normal once it has returned to its pre-pandemic growth path, rather than pre-pandemic levels, de Guindos said.