The buffer should be released if the financial sector is under pressure and there is a risk that banks and mortgage credit institutions will tighten their lending to households and firms so much that a credit crunch may occur. The buffer need not necessarily be released in an economic slowdown.
When, at some point, the buffer is to be released, it can be released gradually or all at once. The decision will depend on the specific situation. For instance, if there is a risk of a systemic financial crisis, the Council may hold an extraordinary meeting and recommend an immediate release of the buffer.