The short-form minutes of the ECB's June meeting show that the decision to introduce QE tapering in October before ending the programme altogether in December was not taken easily, but it was unanimous. The central bank wanted to achieve the twin goals of indicating that while additional policy accommodation was coming to an end, it remained committed to providing sufficient monetary stimulus for as long as necessary to meet its price stability objectives. To this end, it emphasised the importance of forward guidance.
On paper monetary policy is now set through year-end and, come January, the central bank will essentially just seek to keep its balance sheet stable. The benchmark refi rate is officially expected to be held at zero at least through summer, although recent comments have indicated some internal disagreement as to exactly what that means. In any event, a stable policy over the coming twelve months or so assumes that the economy evolves broadly as forecast. Should underlying inflation prove unexpectedly weak, there would still at least an outside chance that QE asset sales would be extended into 2019.