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ECB Will Not Waver Over Bond-Buying Conditions: Coene

Thursday, 27 Dec 2012 | 5:16 AM ET
European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.
Hannelore Foerster | Bloomberg | Getty Images
European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

The European Central Bank will steadfastly enforce conditions attached to sovereign bond purchases under its program to help euro zone states cut borrowing costs, ECB Governing Council member Luc Coene said.

Coene, also governor of Belgium's central bank, said any country wanting the ECB's help via the scheme - under which the central bank would buy potentially unlimited quantities of a struggling country's bonds - would have to face the consequences.

"If we yield, the ECB will lose all credibility. At a certain moment it will be tough. But this is the line that we have drawn in the sand and we cannot and will not cross it," Coene told Thursday's edition of weekly magazine Trends.

Under the program, dubbed outright monetary transactions (OMT), a country would have to apply for aid from Europe's bailout fund before the ECB intervened.

Such aid would come with conditions, such as implementing economic reforms and hitting budget targets, though the ECB would not be technically obliged to buy the country's bonds.

"We cannot as central bankers fundamentally solve the problems. We can only buy time for governments to carry out the necessary reforms, reforms that in any

case are forced upon them. If we only buy time without conditions, we will destroy ourselves," Coene said.

Since launching the OMT in September, ECB President Mario Draghi has repeatedly said countries would only qualify for bond-buying support if they stuck to the conditions.

But his comments have failed to still doubts, mainly in Germany, that the ECB would still buy bonds even if a country failed to meet the conditions attached.

The head of Germany's central bank, Jens Weidmann, was a lone voice of