"Ten years ago, on 1 January 2002, euro banknotes and coins were introduced in 12 Member States of the European Union. The introduction of the euro cash was an unprecedented challenge, but it went smoothly, and billions of banknotes and coins started to circulate in a matter of days. Five more Member States have adopted the euro in recent years, so a total of 17 Member States – and 332 million people – now use the currency. It has become a symbol of Europe, and the banknotes and coins have become a part of our daily lives."
Mario Draghi, President of the ECB
Euro Run 2012 competition: From 1 January to 31 March 2012, a competition of our online game Euro Run is being held for "euro generation" children, aged 9 to 12, living in the European Union.
Visitors’ Day at the ECB On Sunday 29 April 2012, the ECB plans to open its doors to the public. It’s a chance to learn more about euro banknotes and coins, from the history of the money to its production.
Video*: Watch our short film on the first ten years of the euro banknotes and coins.
This material is available free of charge for information purposes related to the euro. It must be distributed or reproduced accurately, with the ECB cited as the source: © European Central Bank. For any other use, please request prior approval from the Press and Information Division of the European Central Bank (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +49 69 1344 7455).
* Pursuant to Article 26 of Decree Law 201/2011, published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic No 284 of 6 December 2011, lira banknotes and coins still in circulation shall lapse and be assigned to the Treasury with immediate effect. Accordingly, as of 7 December 2011 these banknotes and coins may no longer be exchanged at the branches of the Banca d’Italia.
The European Monetary Institute, the forerunner of the ECB, launched a design competition in February 1996. The entries were assessed by a jury of independent experts in marketing, design and art history, and were the subject of a public opinion poll. Taking the combined results into account, the Council of the European Monetary Institute in December 1996 chose the winning entry: a series of designs based on the theme "ages and styles of Europe" submitted by Robert Kalina, a banknote designer from Austria’s central bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, in Vienna. More on banknotes
Unlike euro banknotes, which are the same in all euro area countries, coins have a "European" side and a "national" side. They show symbols of European countries and reflect the unity of the EU. More on coins
Today, 332 million people in 17 Member States use the euro. In mid-2011 there were 14.2 billion banknotes and 95.6 billion coins in circulation, with a total value of €847 billion and €22.8 billion respectively. The €50 banknote had the largest share in volume terms (39.5%), while the €500 banknote had the largest share in terms of value (34.3%), closely followed by the €50 banknote (33%).
The production of euro banknotes started in July 1999 in 15 banknote printing works across the European Union. By 1 January 2002, an initial supply of 14.9 billion banknotes – enough to cover 15,000 football pitches – had been printed for the 308 million people in the then 12 euro area countries. Around 52 billion coins, with a total value of €15.75 billion, were produced by 16 European mints, using 250,000 tonnes of metal.
The cash changeover involved the banking sector, security carriers, retailers, the cash-operated machine industry and, of course, the public. Despite the scale of the challenge to introduce euro cash, the process went smoothly and was successfully completed throughout the euro area by the end of February 2002.
By 1 March 2002 more than 6 billion banknotes and close to 30 billion national coins had been taken out of circulation.
The banknotes and coins that were previously used in some countries, such as the Deutsche Mark or Spanish pesetas, can still be exchanged for euro. You can do this at your national central bank. However, in some countries there is a time limit for exchanging the former national banknotes and/or coins.
In the first half of 2011 a total of 295,553 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. When compared with the number of genuine euro banknotes in circulation (on average 13.8 billion during the first half of 2011), the proportion of counterfeits remains very low. The most "popular" counterfeits were €50 and €20 banknotes. Although confidence in the security of the euro is fully justified by ongoing anti-counterfeiting measures, the ECB urges you to be alert to counterfeits and to apply the "feel-look-tilt" method described here, and to check more than one security feature.
Despite the very small number of counterfeit banknotes, the Eurosystem needs to stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters and make its banknotes even more difficult to counterfeit. Therefore, a second series of euro banknotes will be introduced over the next few years. This new series will retain the most important design elements from the first series of banknotes. The Eurosystem will provide information about the new banknotes in due course.