In October 1998, just before the start of the European Monetary Union, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) adopted a stability oriented monetary policy strategy. This strategy comprises three elements: First and foremost it contains a clear commitment to the primary goal of the ECB, which is to safeguard price stability. Price stability was defined as an annual increase in the price level of below two percent over the medium term.
The other two elements, which soon became famous under the headline of “two pillars”, serve as a means to assess the risks to the goal of price stability . The monetary analysis pillar comprises all information coming from various monetary and credit aggregates and serves to figure out the risks to price stability over the medium- to long-run . The economic analysis pillar is based on a wide set of domestic and international economic indicators from the real and financial sectors (wages, import prices, interest and exchange rates etc.). It provides a basis for the assessment of short- to medium-term price developments.