The ECB holds borrowing costs at record lows and its chief, Mario Draghi, says there are no plans for 'tapering' the bank's bond-buying program, at an unusually dramatic news conference. Ciara Lee reports.
'End the ECB dictatorship' shouted this protester as she leapt towards the bank's chief Mario Draghi. Not quite the press conference he was hoping for, but unruffled Draghi continued after a break. Rates on hold - no surprises there. It was what else Draghi had to say that kept markets poised. The euro zone has been showing signs of new life in recent months and Draghi was quick to acknowledge the progress. (SOUNDBITE) ECB CHIEF, MARIO DRAGHI, SAYING: "There is clear evidence that monetary policy measures we have put in place are effective. Financial market conditions and the cost of external finance for the private sector have eased considerably over the past months and borrowing conditions for firms and households have improved notably." The ECB is committed to buying government bonds and other debt for another 17 months. It's so far kept inflation low and spurred growth. But there has been much speculation that the bank may curtail this stimulus if it feels enough progress has been made, something Draghi was playing down. (SOUNDBITE) ECB CHIEF, MARIO DRAGHI, SAYING: "In any event I'm quite surprised frankly by the attention that a possible early exit of the programme receives when we have been in this programme only a month." European stock markets hit their highest levels in 14 years and a German auction saw 10-year borrowing costs reach a new record low. But not everyone is convinced. Mike Ingram is from BGC. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET COMMENTATOR AT BGC, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "I remain somewhat sceptical that there is great momentum about the European recovery that we have seen so far, And indeed will see in the immediate future. I do believe that the euro zone is relying excessively on monetary policy in order to reflate the economy. And of course the devaluation of the euro has been part and parcel of that." The Greek crisis continues to cast a shadow over progress made in the rest of the euro zone. Draghi confirmed policymakers have sanctioned further emergency funding for Greek banks. But time is running out for Athens to improve a package of reforms required for the release of euro zone loans that it requires to stay afloat. It was an eventful ECB meeting, for all the wrong reasons. The bank will now be facing serious questions over how such a security breach was allowed to happen.