(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank is more likely to lower borrowing costs as a next move, rather than raise them further, Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras said in the clearest remarks yet on rates likely having reached their peak.

The Greek official was joined on Thursday by Croatia’s Boris Vujcic in saying that this month’s ECB hike was probably the last in an unprecedented bout of monetary tightening — assuming inflation moderates back toward the target as envisaged.

Klaas Knot, the hawkish head of the Dutch central bank, said the current level offers “a credible prospect of inflation returning to 2% in 2025” and he doesn’t expect any change “in the very short term.”

“As things stand, I assume that our next step will be an interest-rate cut,” Stournaras told the Boersen-Zeitung newspaper in an interview. “I think we have reached the interest-rate peak. That is my feeling and my understanding.”

ECB officials took the deposit rate to 4% last week, saying that this level will make a “substantial contribution” to returning inflation to their target. But in the days that followed, several — including Vice President Luis de Guindos — have expressed hope that additional tightening won’t be needed.

“If things develop in accordance with our expectations, if we have a continued fall of inflation as we’re expecting, then it won’t be necessary to raise interest rates further,” Vujcic told Croatia’s N1 TV on Thursday.

How long borrowing costs will remain where they are is now the key question, with investors penciling in cuts for the spring as the 20-nation euro-zone economy shows increasing signs of weakness, even if a recession isn’t being forecast yet.

“We are talking about a few months” at this level, Stournaras said. “We will have to decide how many, depending on the data.”

Some, though, warn against prematurely excluding more hikes.

Speaking earlier in the day, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel said it’s too soon to say whether rates have peaked as inflation, at more than 5%, remains stubborn.

“Have we reached the plateau?” he said in a speech in Frankfurt. “This cannot yet be clearly predicted. The inflation rate is still too high. And the forecasts still only show a slow decline toward the target level of 2%.”

Knot, too, stressed that he “cannot rule out that we will not have to increase interest rates again in the future.”

Stournaras, however, argued that the economic perils of further tightening favor erring on the side of caution. Backing that argument, a gauge of private-sector business activity in the euro area due Friday is set to show continued contractions for both manufacturing and services.

“For me, the greater risk at the moment is to do too much,” Stournaras said. “We shouldn’t and don’t need to completely kill the economy. Inflation will fall significantly in the coming months.”

--With assistance from Jana Randow and Cagan Koc.

(Updates with ECB’s Knot starting in third paragraph.)

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