"Our mission is not yet accomplished. We need patience and persistence. We need to be patient, because inflation convergence needs more time to show through convincingly in the data," the ECB's Chief Economist Peter Praet said in a speech July 6 in Paris. In the same speech, he also said that the recovery in the euro zone "seems to have gathered further momentum."
That's exactly the difficult situation the ECB is in: While economic growth is surprisingly strong with both hard data and also sentiment indicators pointing to a solid recovery, inflation is nowhere close to target of below but close to 2 percent. Headline inflation for June even declined slightly to 1.3 percent from 1.4 percent in May with core inflation though slightly increasing by 0.2 percentage points to 1.1 percent.
"The ECB will continue to face little home-made inflationary pressure," writes Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for Germany and Austria at ING-DiBa, in a note.
"If anything, the drop in oil prices, the pick-up in bond yields and the strengthening of the euro have further deteriorated the ECB's inflationary outlook."
New staff projections for inflation and growth will be published in September, that's when the majority of economist polled by Reuters also expect Draghi to announce a reduction of the asset purchase program starting from January next year.
The rationale for the ECB to start the "tapering" despite subdued inflation was announced in Sintra.
"As the economy continues to recover, a constant policy stance will become more accomodative and the central bank can accompany the recovery by adjusting the parameters of its policy instruments - not in order to tighten its policy stance but to keep it broadly unchanged," Draghi said on June 27 in Sintra.
Other policy makers backed this assessment.