" The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro ( The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to keep the euro, ed.)," Said central bank president Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank (ECB). seven years ago during the European debt crisis.

He made this statement in 2012 with rising interest rates from euro countries as a backdrop and a week later a program was announced to buy those debts.

But the ECB also intervened considerably afterwards. Interest rates in all sorts of markets in the euro zone have fallen to historically low levels - partly due to the central bank - and the ECB has some 2,500 billion euros in government bonds in the balance sheet.

But this Thursday afternoon, a new chapter in the stimulation policy of the European Central Bank is expected to be opened.

At the end of last year, the ECB was cautiously asked about when the ECB would "normalize" the policy again. But since then the economic situation has not improved, but has deteriorated.

Economic growth in the euro zone is slowing

Economic growth in the eurozone is slowing down and the German and Italian economies in particular are struggling. Major recessions are not expected, but the German economy, for example, will shrink slightly again in the third quarter.

And inflation - the indicator that the ECB mainly looks at - is also declining. The central bank wants inflation to be just under 2 percent in the medium term. But after a peak in just over 2 percent in 2018, inflation fell slightly and in July the rise in price levels, according to statistics agency Eurostat, amounted to 1 percent.

Wide range of measures

Economists and analysts all expect the ECB to come up with a broad package of measures. A reduction in the deposit rate is thus predicted. This is the interest that banks receive for storing money at the central bank.

It is also expected that the purchase program will be restarted. Since the end of last year, the ECB has only been buying government bonds with the proceeds of the current bonds. But it may be announced on Thursday afternoon that additional tens of billions of government bonds or other bonds will be bought out every month.

In any case, it will mean for Mario Draghi that he will close his career as President of the ECB with a grand finale. The Italian says goodbye at the end of this month and Christine Lagarde comes over from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to take over the baton.

The ECB announces the interest rate decision at 1.45 p.m. Dutch time.