21st May 2019

Euro bank tightens up communications

  • The euro dropped in value at the same time as Coeure spoke (Photo: stefan)

The European Central Bank (ECB) is no longer giving advance copies of speeches to media. But privy briefings for business chiefs will go on.

The Frankfurt-based bank’s announcements move markets, in which traders can make a profit if they beat competitors by fractions of a second.

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It used to send speeches to select journalists from the 19 eurozone states one hour before publication under embargo.

But from Wednesday (20 May) everyone will see them at the same time on its website or hear them at the same time if they go to a public event.

The decision comes after an embarrassing incident in London on Monday.

Benoit Coeure, an ECB board member, gave a speech to invitation-only bankers and hedge fund managers, including Brevan Howard, Goldman Sachs, and Citi, at the Imperial College Business School in which he said the bank will accelerate buying of government bonds.

The euro dropped in value at the same time as he spoke, indicating people in the room used the information.

Journalists weren’t invited. They got the Coeure text 13 hours later, Reuters reports, under the old one-hour embargo. When the news came out, the euro moved again.

An ECB spokesman told EUobserver on Thursday the embargo decision isn’t related to the Coeure incident.

“The issue of releasing speeches under embargo has been under consideration for several months,” he said.

“Our decision in this respect ensures widest possible access to ECB speeches at the same time. It also means that the ECB doesn't have to make choices on which individuals and organisations get speeches under embargo.”

He declined to comment on whether media in the past violated the one-hour lag.

He also declined to say if restricted briefings for business leaders are a threat to information security.

But he noted “the late release of the speech of Mr Coeure [was] caused by an internal procedural error”.

“We have taken steps to ensure that there would be no repeat of the problem.”

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