Update on the euro cash changeover
The progress of the euro cash changeover was outlined today at a joint press conference. The press conference was held by the new President of the ECOFIN Council, Mr. Rodrigo Rato, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Mr. Pedro Solbes, and the President of the ECB, Dr. Willem F. Duisenberg.
Dr. Willem F. Duisenberg described the physical changeover as "progressing very smoothly, even beyond our expectations". He declared "today, we can see that our efforts and those of all parties involved have not been in vain. I should like to express my gratitude to the banking community and the retail sector". He paid tribute to Europeans who have "seized the opportunity to play an active part in the euro changeover."
By the end of 2001, more than 6.5 billion euro banknotes worth some EUR 134 billion and amounting to almost 50% of national banknote circulation had been frontloaded. At the same time, the withdrawal of legacy currencies was well under way, as the circulation of national banknotes dropped sharply in 2001, from EUR 380 billion on 1 January 2001 to EUR 270 billion on 1 January 2002.
With regard to the euro coins, more than 37.5 billion coins with a total value of around EUR 12.4 billion had been frontloaded. Broadly speaking, sub-frontloading was in line with the initial forecasts and represented an overall amount of between 10 and 20% of the frontloaded amount.
As for the conversion of ATMs, the process is now almost complete as some 96% of machines had been converted by today at 2 p.m., that is to say around 197,400 ATMs. In Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria 100% of ATMs are now dispensing euro banknotes. The corresponding figure in Spain is 97 %, in France 95 % (figure relates to 4 p.m. on 2 January 2002), in Finland 92 %, in Portugal 90 % and in Italy 85 % (90 % are expected at the end of 3 January 2002).
The demand for euro banknotes has been very high thus far during the first few days of the euro cash changeover. Thus, at the local level, there has been some shortage of the lower denominations of euro banknotes. However, the amount of reserve and logistical stocks will allow the Eurosystem to swiftly accommodate any increase in demand for any banknote denominations.