FRANKFURT The European Central Bank will only publish legal documentation for its government bond purchase programme if the scheme is actually used, a document published on Monday by German newspaper Handelsblatt showed.
The ECB launched its Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme in September after pledging to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, calming financial markets but stirring criticism from Germany's Bundesbank, which opposes the scheme.
The matter has reached Germany's Constitutional Court, which will hold a public hearing on June 11-12 on complaints against the bond-buying scheme as well as Europe's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
The Bundesbank sharply criticised the OMT programme in a 29-page report to the court prepared in December and published by Handelsblatt last week. On Monday the same newspaper printed the ECB's report to the court, which is 52 pages long and dated January 16.
It stressed that the programme was consistent with the central bank's mandate and said the relevant legal documents, which journalists have pressed the ECB for repeatedly, would only be published once the programme was being activated.
The document said this was because concrete conditions for the OMT still had to be drawn up, and because simply announcing the programme had already had the desired effect of lowering sovereign bond yields for some euro zone countries.
"The European Central Bank will therefore only pass and publish the formal decision for Outright Monetary Transactions at the point in time when transactions in the secondary market are imminent," it said.
Journalists have repeatedly asked the ECB about the legal framework for the OMT to find out how exactly the programme will work. At a news conference after its April policy meeting, ECB President Mario Draghi said the document "is being worked on and will come out when it is time".
(Reporting by Eva Kuehnen; Editing by Catherine Evans)