Description of the selected designs

10 July 1997

The designs chosen by the EMI Council are inspired by the theme "Ages and styles of Europe". The winning designs, produced by Mr. Robert Kalina of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, depict the prevailing architectural style during seven "ages" in Europe's cultural history - Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, the age of iron and glass architecture, and modern 20th century architecture - and emphasise three main architectural elements: windows, gateways and bridges.

The designs were selected because they blend the historical development of the technical, artistic and communication fields in Europe in one harmonious composition, and epitomise the dawn of the new common Europe with its common cultural heritage, and the vision of a common future in the next century, indeed, the new millennium.

Windows and gateways form the principal element of the front side of each banknote and symbolise the spirit of openness and co-operation in the European Union. In addition, the twelve stars of the EU are also featured, representing the dynamism and harmony of contemporary Europe.

To complement these design elements, the reverse side of each banknote features a bridge typical of the respective age of European development. These range from pre-Christian constructions to the sophisticated suspension bridges of the modern era. Bridges are used as a metaphor for communication both among the people of Europe, and also between Europe and the rest of the world.

The other main aspects that are depicted on the banknotes are:

  • the name of the currency - EURO; the name appears in both the Latin and the Greek alphabet, since both are in current use in the European Union;
  • the flag of the European Union on the reverse of the banknote;
  • the initials of the issuing authority (the European Central Bank) in their five variants - BCE, ECB, EZB, EKT, EKP;
  • the signature of the President of the ECB, positioned close to the initials; on the draft designs it is given as a dummy signature.

Each denomination has its specific dominant colour to enable a clear distinction to be made between the different denominations. This is an essential aspect in order to facilitate the smooth functioning of banknote circulation. The basic colours have been carefully chosen on the basis of scientific research.

The clearly different sizes of the seven banknotes in the series are intended to serve the same purpose. The banknotes increase in size as the denomination rises.

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